One step or two?

Research scientists at the University of Roehampton have found the answer to the dilemma – should I take the stairs one or two at a time?

Posted: 13 December 2012

image for news story One step or two?
Dr Lewis Halsey's research compared the benefits of taking one and two stairs with each step

Stairway climbing provides a ubiquitous and inconspicuous method of burning calories. At this time of year when we’re looking at improving our fitness levels, taking the stairs instead of the lift/escalators is an easier and cheaper alternative to the gym. But what method of tackling the stairs burns the most calories? Should we climb one stair at a time or is it better climbing when taking two steps per stride?

Dr Lewis Halsey, Senior Lecturer in Comparative and Environmental Physiology at the University of Roehampton, who undertook the research, said “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.

“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”.

In trials undertaken at the University, researchers found that although more energy is initially expended when taking the stairs two steps per stride, over time, more energy is actually burnt up taking the stairs one at a time. So on average, when climbing five-floors of stairs, five times a week, 302 kcal would be burnt if taking those stairs one at a time, compared with 260 kcal if taking two steps with every stride.

So now we know, one step is better than two.

To read the full research paper click here.

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