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Take Stairs One at a Time for More Effective Weight-Loss

Update Date: Dec 17, 2012 05:20 AM EST

If you think taking bigger leaps of 2-3 steps at a time makes you exert more energy and hence would make you lose weight faster, think again. A new study suggests that the more effective way to lose weight is in fact by ascending one step at a time.

Even though more energy is spent while taking multiple leaps initially, taking one step at a time burns more calories over time, the research suggests.

For the research, scientists from the University of Roehampton had volunteers climbing five flights of stairs five times a week (ascending around 15 meters). The researchers found that while the participants burnt an average of 302 calories if the stairs were taken one at a time, taking two steps at one go only burnt 260 calories, according to them.

"We were really interested to find out what expended more energy overall - attacking the stairs two at a time and climbing them quickly, or taking them more sedately one step at a time and reaching the top more slowly," Dr. Lewis Halsey, senior lecturer in comparative and environmental physiology at the university, was quoted as saying by Mail Online.

"Our study reported the calories burned ascending stairs, the potential weight loss value of climbing stairs if done regularly and frequently during the week, and also the different energy costs of ascending stairs one step at a time versus two steps at a time. And our conclusion: it is better to take the stairs one at a time, if you want to burn the most calories," Halsey added.

He also said that more calories getting burnt while taking one step at a time may be possibly because of the fact that it takes longer to finish the flight of stairs when the steps are taken one by one. However, there also could be another possible reason: the biomechanical explanation.

Taking stairs one by one may result in faster rates of muscle shortening, increasing energy turnover, the report said.

Earlier research conducted by scientists from University of Ulster revealed that office workers who climbed stairs quickly improved their fitness. For the study, the researchers had divided office employees into two groups. One group was asked to climb staircases located within an eight-storey office block, consisting of 145 steps. Initially, the employees climbed the stairs once a day, and over the next 5 weeks, started doing so thrice weekly.  

They climbed stairs with an average speed of 75 steps a minute. At the end of the study, the stair-climbing group showed a significant 10 percent increase in their body's capacity to take up and use oxygen.

"Given that such improvement resulted from less than 30 minutes per week of moderate exercise, stair climbing in the workplace should be promoted as a health-enhancing physical activity," lead researcher Rodney Kennedy said, according to the report.

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