Many people believe that in order to get a good cardiovascular workout, and burn a lot of calories in a reasonable period of time, you must take up running a mile or two per day. Luckily for those who don’t enjoy running, this isn’t true at all. In fact, some forms of exercise offer an even greater calorie burn.
In particular, stair climbing can burn more calories, in the same period of time, as running. And here’s an even better benefit: If you work in an office building that boasts a few flights of stairs, you could reap the benefits of exercise on your breaks.
But back to our original point: Why does stair climbing burn more calories than running?
For one thing, when you climb stairs you are working against gravity. The effort required to propel your body up a flight of stairs is greater than the effort required to propel your body forward (as in running). Assuming roughly equal body sizes and fitness levels, a person who climbs stairs for fifteen minutes will burn more calories than a person who runs at a moderate pace for the same period of time.
Second, you use different muscle groups for stair climbing versus running. Stair climbing works muscles that you probably don’t use as often, so the level of exertion is greater. It also provides resistance exercise in addition to the cardiovascular aspect of the workout, so you use more energy to activate the gluteal muscles.
So, does this mean you should switch out your workout, and opt for stair climbing over running? You could, if your goal is simply to burn more calories in the same time period. Or, if you prefer, you could combine the two forms of exercise (try running at a stadium or another area where you can add some stair climbing to your route).
On the other hand, the best workout is always one that you will stick with for the long haul. So if you hate one of these forms of exercise, but enjoy the other, then just stick with the one you enjoy. Either type of exercise is beneficial, and the most important thing is to work out consistently.