T Nation

Calories Burned Taking the Stairs


#1

I’m getting orders of magnitude discrepancy in ballparking this, based on:


According to the first, a 160 pound person burns nine calories walking up a flight of stairs. For ballparking purposes, I’m taking a flight as the two sets of stairs in between floors of a typical highrise building, ignoring the fact that this is typically greater for a commercial/office building compared to a residential building.

According to the second website:
(MET=9)x(3.5)x(160/2.2)/(200)*(10/60) = 1.9 calories

The first pair of brackets is a MET of 9 for stair climbing under a load. The 160/2.2 converts pounds to kilograms. The final pair of brackets converts the ball park of 10 seconds to climb a flight into minutes.

While I expect some differences in the estimate due to all sorts of ballparking, I don’t expect two orders of magnitude, especially since the second calculation is under load and should be more.

With such a large discrepancy, how does one vet the information online about this to arrive at somewhat plausible numbers?


#2

[quote=“EveryModeration, post:1, topic:225996”]
how does one vet the information online about this to arrive at somewhat plausible numbers?[/quote]
Same way you’d vet any other info. Due diligence into the credibility of the source of the info (the site, author, formula, etc.).

But would it be crazy to just not track the calories burned? That would skip a whole bunch of overanalyzing and wouldn’t impact the effects of cardio, especially since the actual calories burned during exercise aren’t the biggest factor in getting results.

Presuming you’re doing it for fat loss, just track the time and relative intensity (low intensity like “piece of cake can walk up these stairs forever” vs high intensity “OMFG I can’t wait for this to be over” vs something in-between), and make adjustments based on progress.


#3

I’m just ballparking this out of curiosity, as I’ve never actually thought quantitatively about any physical exertion. Also, as you age, your metabolism slows down, and you have to work harder to maintain caloric balance. Ballparking things becomes more important.

As for the discrepancy in my original post, I’m an idiot. The first link is not for a single flight of stairs. It’s for 1 minute climbing a “set” of stairs, i.e., climbing continuously. So in order to compare apples to apples, I don’t need the (10/60) factor in my second estimate to reduce the estimate from 1 minute to 10 seconds, which is just a wild guess at how long it takes to climb one floor.

Focusing on 1 minute, the calculation from the second link becomes (MET=9)x(3.5)x(160/2.2)/(200) = 11.5 calores, which is slightly the 9 calories per minute from the first link. That’s OK, considering that the second link is for carrying a load.

I estimate that it takes me 6 minutes to climb 20 floors with a load on my back, which amounts to 70 calories. About an apple.