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A Step Backward

Stair climbing machines don't burn as many calories as once thought

Does your exercise plan include spending time on the stair-stepper, going up and down stairs?

If you're doing this as part of an aerobic program for your heart, that's fine. But if you thought you were burning lots of calories to stay slim, the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise has some bad news for you.

The Exercise Science Unit at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville measured the amount of energy used in climbing stairs. The old estimates assumed that it took a 150-pound person 0.4 calories to go up one step and about half that to go down a step.

But when the energy expenditures were measured more carefully, the amount of energy used to go up a stair turned out to be only 0.15 calories. Going down a stair takes only 0.05 calories.

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