A new day, a new thing

My goal to learn something new every day

Day 14: Taking the stairs

This year, a governor in the north of Turkey decided to ban people from taking the elevator in public buildings if they only want to travel to the second or third floor. He did this, he says, because he is worried about the obesity rate in his country and he wants to encourage people to be more healthy. You can read more about the story here (Independent), here (RT) and I’m sure on many other news sites.

I thought it was an interesting story, and I discussed it with some of my students in class last week. But one of the questions that my students had was how effective using the stairs is.

The livestrong.com website says this about walking up stairs:

Walking up stairs at a moderate pace works the large muscle groups in your lower body and elevates your heart rate. Bypassing the elevator or escalator for the stairs will increase your fitness level and add to your daily exercise goal.

But how many calories is that? Fortunately, there’s a great website (healthstatus.com) that lets you calculate how many calories you will burn off doing particular exercises for certain amount of times depending on your height, weight, age and gender.

I live on the 3rd floor of my apartment building, which is admittedly not very high, but almost every day opt for the stairs. That might have more to do with me being impatient and not wanting to wait for the elevator to come all the way down from the 13th floor every night. It takes me about 22 seconds to walk up the stairs, so that’s probably not very many calories (the Health Status calculator doesn’t let you enter a value less than 1 minute).

At 179lbs/82kg and 5′ 10″, I’m a bit over the suggested weight for my height. I also need to do more exercise. While I do try to ride my exercise bike when I remember to, that probably only amounts to about 20-30 minutes a week (and that’s on a good week).

But today, I had a thought. I work in downtown Daegu, in this building…


…on the 16th floor!

So I decided to see how long it would take me to walk all the way from the first floor (or ground floor if you’re a Brit) to the 16th floor (15th in the UK). And then from that see how many calories I could burn.

Of course, I’m no fool, and I decided to do a bit of research about the best way to climb the stairs: quickly, slowly? As it turns out, according to some research from the University of Roehampton, taking the stairs one at a time at a moderate pace will help you to burn off more calories than taking two stairs at a time. So a moderate pace it is.

The ascent

I counted a total of 364 stairs in the building, and today, it took me a little over 5 minutes to walk to the top. The stats monkeys at the Calories Burned calculator on HealthStatus.com tell me that amounts to a total of 54 calories burned:


I’m not sure why it says 54 and 55 calories?


It definitely started to feel like a workout on about floor 8, and by the time I got to the top, my heart was beating noticeably faster. My legs started to feel a little sore too. But, it felt good. Perhaps that can be my thing from now. I’ll see how long I last.

In summary, I learned that 1) taking the stairs can feel like a workout, 2) there are 364 stairs in my work building, 3) taking stairs one by one is better than two at a time.


On a final note, there are easier ways to reduce calories. To paraphrase Little Britain:

Take the food you like, cut it in half, and it’s just half the calories. And because it’s only half the calories, you can have twice as much.


Featured image courtesy of jchalendard on Flickr

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This entry was posted on January 14, 2015 by in Health, Korea and tagged , , , .


January 2015

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