Typical case studies: how stair climbing burns calories fast

1/ Holly, 24, marketing assistant, London

Holly hates dieting and is too self-conscious for the gym but wants to lose some weight for her wedding next year. She’s noticed that there’s a small group who use the stairs at work and decides to join them, climbing up and down the 100 stairs to the fifth floor three times a day 481.8 calories per week). As her legs get stronger she adds the stairs at either end of her daily commute on the London Underground, clocking up an additional 814 steps (and escaping the overcrowded lifts). Overall Holly burns an extra 195 calories per day by climbing the stairs. This adds up to 44,905 calories a year, which is equivalent to 22 days of food or 4.99kgs of pure fat. Her BMI drops too, meaning she moves from being overweight to a healthy weight.

2/ Bob, 48, supermarket buyer, Leeds

Bob recently visited his GP who warned him about his weight, adding that there is excellent evidence to show that regular physical activity reduces the risk of stroke and heart attack. Bob responded by building stair climbing into his daily routine. He now insists on holding all his meetings on the ground floor of his four-storey office, clocking up an average of five journeys a day and 5,000 steps per week. He also gets off the bus two stops early to fit in an old Victorian public stairway with 70 steps near his home. Over the course of the year James burns an extra 64,319 calories. He’s delighted at the resulting weight loss (down 8.3kgs) but also feels as if he has more energy generally. He’s even suggested to his family a hiking holiday in the Peaks.

3/ Leah, 30, mum of two, Stevenage

Leah has struggled with her weight over the last few years. Her daughter’s school has also told her that her daughter’s BMI is too high. She doesn’t have the money for the gym but a neighbour in her apartment block has rated the 12-storey building for calories and challenged her and the two girls to a calorie burn competition. Using her daughter’s iPod Touch, they climb the stairs in the apartment block 25 times over a month and burn 15,000 calories. Hertfordshire County Council has also rated the local library and they climb the stairs there a couple of times a week. Over just three months Leah burns an additional 6,000 calories, and climbs an extra 37,584 steps. Even more important perhaps, the additional activity helps bring her daughter’s BMI back into the normal range.

4/ Geoff, 35, management consultant, City of London

Geoff has always been fit but increasingly finds that work is making him ‘time poor’. Long hours mean he rarely plays with his old five-a-side team and constant travel means a gym membership is difficult. He takes to the stairs. He lives in an apartment on the fourth floor in north London and rates the building. He climbs at his tube stations and when he’s working he rates the hotels, keeping track wherever he goes. He’s also rated his office, a swanky new building with 12 floors overlooking the Thames, and has got his whole team competing with each other. Over a year he burns an additional 103,643 calories, climbs an extra 193,920 steps and loses 13.41kgs. He’s delighted not least because he’s told that stair climbing is excellent training for skiing.

5/ Sue, 45, HR executive

Sue has never been very good at any sport or exercise and gets embarrassed at the thought of attending a yoga class. But she knows through her work how important physical activity is not just for health but productivity and wants to do something that can involve everyone in the company. She puts up signs across the three buildings in her organisation. As a result there is 25 per cent uplift in stair use. This takes the stress off the lifts, makes the building greener and saves everyone quite a bit of time. The increase in stair use also burns on average over 11,000 calories per employee. In total, the 110 employees burn over 1.2 million calories in a year, losing over 168kgs between them. Sue is also happy because she’s climbing at least 2,000 steps per week and loses enough weight to move her BMI from obese to overweight, a shift that she’s confident will continue. Her boss is delighted - partly because his staff seem more energised - but also because the calorie signs clearly signal to clients that the firm has got the health bug and is innovating.

Notes for editors
Calculations assumptions and case study statistics are based on the following:

  • Average daily calories burnt is averaged across a 5-day working week 
  • Working year is based on 230 working days per annum
  • Annual calorie expenditure in number of days is based on average calorie intake of 2,500 k/cals per day for men and 2,000 k/cals per day for women
  • We assume fat has nine calories per gram 
  • Burning 3,500 calories leads to a weight loss of approximately 0.45kg

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