You likely know that climbing stairs is the healthier option but to what extent does it help for fitness goals like burning calories?
Climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator is a simple way to increase your movement intensity. You can also consider climbing stairs instead of going for a regular walk.
While the exact number of calories burned by climbing stairs varies from individual to individual, the average person can expect to burn around 59-102+ calories per 15 minutes of climbing stairs at a slow pace.
Around 130-223+ calories per 15 minutes of climbing stairs at a fast pace.
This article will also show you a more detailed chart that takes multiple factors into account, calories burned by climbing stairs slow vs fast, calories burned per number of steps, how many stair steps to take to burn certain amounts of calories, and ways to increase the number of calories burned when climbing stairs.
Biggest factors in calories burned with climbing stairs
A fact that many people find annoying is that the number of calories you burn while doing something like climbing stairs is hard to predict correctly. This fact can make things like weight loss feel like a guessing game.
Even so, good estimations can be a helpful starting point. By taking a few important factors into account you can make your estimations more accurate.
Some of the biggest factors that influence how many calories you burn with climbing stairs include:
- Weight: To move around your body needs energy, measured in calories. The more you weigh, the more energy you need to fuel movement.
- Body composition: Body composition is how much of your body weight is made up of different tissue. Two people can weigh the same but for one individual most of the weight can come from fat while the second individual has a lot of muscle. The reason that is important is that the same weight of muscle requires more energy than that weight in fat.
- Intensity: If you’re looking at calories burned per minute of climbing stairs this can vary a lot by moving your body at a fast vs slow speed. There are also different estimations for how much extra external weight you are carrying up the stairs.
Hidden calorie burning from climbing stairs
There are many other aspects that make it even harder to put how many calories you burn with climbing stairs into an exact number.
This includes the fact that the calorie-burning effects of climbing stairs are not limited to during the workout.
As mentioned, how much you weigh plays a relatively big role in how many calories you burn. This doesn’t just apply to your workout, this is also the case during everyday activities.
While it is unlikely, you may build some extra muscle mass by climbing stairs if you are currently not very active.
It will definitely not be as much compared to weight lifting but any extra muscle mass could help you burn a few extra calories throughout the day.
Doing a workout at high intensity can also cause something called “afterburn”. This is basically having an increased metabolism for a while after you stop doing the exercise.
Estimations for calories burned with climbing stairs usually don’t take into account these long-term effects.
Chart of stair climbing calorie-burning estimations
The centers for disease control and prevention simplifies the number of calories burned by climbing stairs into between 3.5-7 calories per minute if you carry less than 25 pounds external weight, 7+ calories per minute if you carry heavier objects (1). In reality, there are tools to make more precise estimations.
To calculate calories burned during certain exercises more specifically you can use a formula with MET values. A MET value is an exercise-specific value to indicate how intense a specific type of workout is.
You can use this in the following formula: METs x 3.5 x (your body weight in kilograms) / 200 = calories burned per minute
Estimations for METs while climbing stairs depend a lot on intensity and how much weight you carry and vary from 4 at slow stair climbing, 8.8 at fast stair climbing, and 12+ to carrying a 74 lb load upstairs (2).
You can look at the number of calories burned by climbing stairs from different perspectives. Below you can find charts about calories burned with climbing stairs at a slow pace per time interval, the difference in calories burned between slow and fast stair climbing, estimations per number of stairs, and how many steps to take to burn certain amounts of calories.
These will only be the bodyweight estimations since there are so many different estimations for carrying different load weights.
Again keep in mind that these are estimations. This formula doesn’t take into account certain factors that do influence calories burned by climbing stairs.
To put these estimations into perspective, 100 grams of boiled potatoes contains about 87 calories (3).
Calories burned with climbing stairs per time interval
One of the most convenient ways to see how many calories you burned while climbing stairs is by looking at how much time you spent doing it.
|1 Minute||15 Minutes||30 Minutes||45 Minutes||60 Minutes|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||4 calories||59 calories||118 calories||177 calories||236 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||5 calories||73 calories||146 calories||220 calories||293 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||6 calories||87 calories||175 calories||262 calories||350 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||7 calories||102 calories||203 calories||305 calories||406 calories|
Calories burned by climbing stairs slow vs fast
Next there is the chart for calories burned while climbing stairs at different intensities. These numbers are when climbing stairs for 15 minutes.
|Climbing Stairs (Slow)||Climbing Stairs (Fast)|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||59 calories||130 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||73 calories||161 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||87 calories||192 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||102 calories||223 calories|
Calories burned by climbing stairs per steps
Next there is the chart for calories burned by climbing stairs per stair step counts. These numbers are for climbing stairs at a slow pace. For the calculations 16 stair steps per 12.2 seconds.
You can usually expect about 20 stair steps per floor difference. So for example by climbing 10 floors of stairs at a slow pace you can expect to burn around 10-17.2 calories.
|Number Of Steps|
|50 Steps||100 Steps||150 Steps|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||2.5 calories||5 calories||7.5 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||3.1 calories||6.2 calories||9.3 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||3.7 calories||7.4 calories||11.1 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||4.3 calories||8.6 calories||13 calories|
How many steps for certain calorie amounts
Next there is the chart for how many stair steps you need to climb to burn certain amounts of calories. These numbers are for climbing stairs at a slow pace.
|100 Calories||200 Calories||500 Calories|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||2000 steps||4000 steps||10000 steps|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||1613 steps||3226 steps||8065 steps|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||1351 steps||2703 steps||6757 steps|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||1163 steps||2326 steps||5814 steps|
Ways to burn more calories with climbing stairs
The number of calories burned with climbing stairs is certainly not something set in stone. There are a few ways you can increase this amount per time interval.
For many people climbing stairs is not a separate routine, but something they implement in their daily life. This means burning more calories per step.
You can do this by making the weight you have to carry around heavier. In theory, you could do this by wearing weighted ankle bands or a weighted vest. A more realistic method for something like an office environment is building some extra muscle mass with other exercises.
If you climb stairs as a form of exercise your challenge may be fitting in workouts in your busy schedule. If this is the case you want to burn as many calories in the least amount of time, which means burning more calories per minute of climbing stairs.
If you do have more time, spending more time climbing stairs will generally burn more calories although at some point overtraining may cause the reverse.
An obvious but effective way to burn more calories per minute of climbing stairs is doing it at a faster pace. At some intensity point, you also get the added afterburn effect.
Carrying extra weight or building extra muscle mass will also help you burn more calories per minute of climbing stairs.
How long does it take to see results from climbing stairs?
One pound of body fat is about 3500 calories (one kg +-8000). How long it takes to see weight loss results from climbing stairs will also depend on the number of calories in your diet.
One person might eat more than the other. This might make it so they need to exercise longer or more intensely to see the same weight loss results. You can even lose weight without exercising so there are many factors that influence it.
15 minutes of climbing stairs a day at a slow pace could help you burn an extra 730 calories in 10 days which is about 0.21 pounds of body fat. 30 days 2190 calories and so on…
Keep in mind that losing weight too fast can be harmful. In general, a 500 calorie deficit per day is considered to be a healthy weight loss rate.
Should you climb stairs for calorie burning?
One of the benefits of climbing stairs is that you don’t necessarily need to free up a whole evening to do it. Climbing stairs will burn more calories and improve your health more than taking the elevator. This is just a matter of taking a choice.
As a separate workout, climbing the stairs at a fast pace can be a good exercise choice to burn a lot of calories. That being said there are also many other exercises that can help you burn more calories in a shorter amount of time.
If calorie burning is your main goal and you do decide to implement more stair climbing, it may also be smart to implement some exercises in your schedule specifically for building muscle on top of your stair climbing workouts. The extra muscle mass will help you burn more calories day in, day out, including while you are climbing stairs.
Also keep in mind that the things you eat stay important no matter what exercise routine you’re following. It’s hard to out-exercise a bad diet.