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Our environment is full of opportunities for unplanned physical activity, we simply have to incorporate it into our daily routine. A good example is climbing stairs, that is, using the stairs to move from one place to another, without taking the elevator or escalator at work, at home, in large buildings and warehouses, clinics, government offices, schools-universities.

Therefore, if we take the stairs as part of our daily routine, we burn calories without realizing it.



  • Regular physical activity slows the physiological changes associated with ageing, prolongs life and improves general metabolic, cardiovascular, mental and bone and joint health.
    • Most people fail to do the amount of physical activity that is recommended by experts to maintain their health.
    • The workplace is an ideal place to carry out awareness campaigns concerning physical activity and healthy eating.
    • Taking the stairs is a simple way to increase the level of physical activity. It requires no special skills or equipment, or even spending additional time.


What are the benefits of promoting an active life by using stairs?

  • There is evidence of its effectiveness.
  • Low cost intervention.
  • No need to invest in infrastructures or special equipment for it to be effective.
  • Easy and accessible.
  • Virtually everyone can climb and descend stairs.

Climbing stairs as exercise!

Climbing stairs is considered an aerobic activity, which enhances cardiorespiratory performance and decreases body fat. In addition, it is an activity that can be light, moderate or intense.


Climbing stairs burns the following calories in a 70 kg person over 30 minutes:

  • Stairs without weights: 210 kcal.
  • Stairs with light weights: 280 kcal.
  • Stairs with heavy weights: 385 kcal.

Benefits of climbing stairs:

  • It is an activity that can be accumulated throughout the day and helps to reach the thirty minutes of physical activity a day recommended (Kerr, 2001).
  • It is accessible. There are stairs both inside and outside of buildings that can be incorporated into the daily routine.
  • It is effective (Kahn @E, 2002).
  • Climbing stairs multiplies the energy expenditure of walking on flat ground by three to four times (consumes 9.6 times more calories than rest). (Teh KC, 2002).
  • Climbing stairs burns 8-11 kcal per minute (Edwards, 1983).
  • Climbing stairs seven minutes a day reduces the incidence of cardiovascular disease in middle-aged men by two-thirds (Yu S 2003).
  • Climbing over fifty-five flights of stairs a week significantly reduces the risk of dying prematurely (Paffenbarger, 1993).
  • Climbing stairs improves fitness and increases aerobic capacity (Ilmarinen et al, 1978).
  • Strengthens bones (Coupland, 1999).
  • Improves good cholesterol (Wallace, 2000).
  • Increases the strength of leg muscles and helps reduce the risk of falls in older people (Allied Dunbar Survey, 1992).
  • Reduces the risk of heart attack.
  • Climbing two floors every day results in losing 2.7 kg per year.
  • In 1975 it was learned that you only have to climb stairs for twelve weeks to get a 10% maximal aerobic capacity.


Successful case study example: the campaign in the Barcelona Metro (2010)


Before the workplace campaign, and following the more than 18 studies around the world that show the effectiveness of the campaign in several areas in 2006, the Department of Health sponsored a study on the metro in Barcelona that showed that the probability of climbing stairs increased 45% with the placement of signs with different messages.

Additional benefits:
• Increases the level of knowledge about the effects of physical activity on health.
• Increases the number of people climbing stairs in different situations and environments (and not only in the workplace).
• Increases the level of habitual physical activity.
• Involves citizens in the self-management of their health.

• Secure the involvement and commitment of managers to give support and implement the initiative.
• Measure the initial situation (7 working days).
• Submit the initiative to the staff.
• Post signs at points of decision-making to promote the use of stairs instead of the elevator.
• Measure the initiative afterwards (6 working days).

One of the actions of the campaign was the placement of signs with the slogan “Get healthy, take the stairs” at 22 stations in 6 metro lines. At the same time, bus lines distributed leaflets with information on how to increase the level of habitual physical activity while performing everyday activities. Other activities that came under this campaign were conducting free taichi sessions at the Universitat and Mundet stations, and dissemination activities were held in the parks of Barcelona.

The campaign included the participation of the Department of Health, the Barcelona Metropolitan Transport (TMB), the Public Health Agency of Barcelona (ASPB) and the Barcelona Sports Institute (IBE).


In a new post we will talk about other interesting success stories in promoting stair use for encouraging health.




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