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Q: Calories per Flight of Stairs ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Calories per Flight of Stairs
Category: Health > Fitness and Nutrition
Asked by: tamkins-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 28 Oct 2003 14:01 PST
Expires: 27 Nov 2003 14:01 PST
Question ID: 270575
I want to know the number of calories burned per pound of body weight
for climbing a flight of stairs.  Assume each story is 14' tall.

Just to be clear, I need to know calories per FLIGHT, not by any unit
of time.
Subject: Re: Calories per Flight of Stairs
Answered By: juggler-ga on 28 Oct 2003 15:29 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

Here are two articles that claim 16 calories are burned by climbing a
flight of stairs.

"...walking up one flight of stairs (burns 16 calories per flight)."
Get Up and Get Going! Sneaking Exercise into Your Busy Day
by Liz Neporent, M.A, hosted by,,165574_65074,00.html

"Skip the elevator at work and when shopping. Youメll burn H and
youメll get your heart pumping."
source: Healty Ideas, hosted by


However, a more scientific look at this topic from a university
lecture presents a much less optimistic conclusion:

"1 Calorie (nutritional) = 1 kilocalorie (kcal) [i.e., 1000 cal]
1 British Thermal Unit (Btu) = 252 cal
If you weigh 120 pounds, how many flights of stairs (12 ft high) would
you have to climb in order to "work off" a 240 Calorie candy bar?
Since you're given the weight/distance information in pounds and feet,
let's start by calculating the work done climbing 1 flight of stairs
in ft-lb.
 (120 lb) x (12 ft) = 1440 ft-lb per flight of stairs 
Using the equivalents above, we can convert this to Calories...

1440 ft-lb x 1 Btu 252 cal  = 466.4 cal = 0.4664 Calories
             778 ft-lb 1 Btu
source: Natural Sciences I lecture 11: More on Heat and Temperature;
Thermodynamics E. B. Watson," from,cached by Google:

Using this method...
You mentioned 14 feet as the height of the flight of stairs.  Let's
use 150 pounds as an average weight.

150 lbs * 14 feet = 2100 ft-lb

2100 ft-lb * 1 Btu 252 cal  = 680.2 cal = 0.6802 kcal (nutrit. Cal)
           778 ft-lb 1 Btu

Thus, this method would suggest that just 2/3rds of a calorie would be
burned by climbing a 14' flight of stairs.

search strategy:
"calories per flight"
calories "per flight of stairs" 

I hope this helps.
tamkins-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Thanks, juggler.  16 sounds about right.  I think the
science-experiment answer is wrong because our bodies are not
perfectly efficient machines.  (I've seen that one before in my own

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