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Can a Stair Climber Help Me Lose Weight?

Monday, February 26th

Can a Stair Climber Help Me Lose Weight?

Stair climbing is one of the best exercises for losing weight. It's an aerobic activity, which makes it efficient at burning calories. But stair climbing is also a strength training exercise. Stair climbing involves vertical movement, forcing your body to resist gravity. As a result, you are repeatedly lifting the entire weight of your body, and that takes a lot of strength.

Therefore, you build muscle. And muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue. Any exercise that combines aerobic and strength training can burn more calories and lead to more weight loss than either activity alone.

What is a Stair Climber?

A stair climber is a fitness machine that simulates the action of walking up a flight of stairs. It can be a large machine in a gym or a more compact version for home use. Most have a built-in heart monitor and calorie tracker, and you can find many options for price and size. Or you can find a staircase anywhere - indoors or outside. This versatility makes stair climbing an increasingly popular activity.

How Much Weight Will I Be Able To Lose?

Many factors determine how many calories you burn. A few of these you have no control over, such as:

  • Your body composition and size: People who have more muscle or are larger will burn more calories, even at rest.
  • Your gender: Men typically have less body fat and more muscle than women of the same age and weight, which means they burn more calories.
  • Your age: As you age, the amount of muscle tends to decrease and fat increases, which slows down calorie burning.

But you do have a great deal of control over:

  • The amount of time you spend exercising: The more time you put in, the more calories you'll burn.
  • The intensity you put into it: The harder you work, the more weight you'll lose.

Unfortunately, weight loss is complex, with many factors playing into the energy equation, including genetics, hormones, and stress. But to keep it simple, if you burn more calories than you eat, you'll lose weight. One pound of weight equates to 3,500 calories. Therefore, if you burn 3,500 calories more than you eat in a month, you should lose about one pound that month.

According to the Harvard Health Review, a 155-pound person will burn 216 calories per half-hour climbing stairs. Therefore, if he climbed stairs for 30 minutes three times a week, he would lose about 10 pounds in a year even if his diet remained the same. If he climbed for 60 minutes four times a week, he would lose 26 pounds in a year without changing his eating habits.

And you'll continue to burn calories long after you complete your workout. Think about your oven. You turn it on, it warms up and creates heat until you turn it off. But when you turn it off, it stays warm for a while. Our bodies are just like that: When we quit working out, we stay warm for a while, burning calories.

But the fundamental goal of losing weight isn't about seeing a number on your scale - it's about being healthy and looking great. And stair climbing is an excellent way to achieve those goals quickly.

Best Stair Climbers

Stair Climbing Targets Large Muscle Groups

The creation of new muscle tissue causes much of the calorie-burning superpower of stair climbers. Remember, muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, so you'll be burning more calories in the same amount of time after a few weeks.

Stair climbing involves using more muscles than running or walking on a flat surface, so you'll see results sooner. It targets some of the most important muscle groups in the body:

  • The quadriceps allow you to walk, run, and stand. They also help stabilize the kneecap.
  • Your gluteal muscles help your body stay upright, improve your balance, support the knees, move the hip joint and support the pelvis.
  • You'll be using your core abdominals for balance and your lower abdominals for lifting the legs.
  • The hamstrings allow you to walk, squat, bend your knees and stabilize the knee joint by protecting the ACL.
  • Strong calves improve circulation throughout the body. The calves are sometimes referred to as your "second heart" because as you walk, your calf muscles pump blood back toward your heart, preventing gravity from pulling blood in the wrong direction. Having strong calves stabilizes your ankles and feet by preventing them from rolling inward or outward when you walk, thus allowing you to avoid many hip, knee, ankle and foot problems. Good calf strength also prevents sprained ankles, stress fractures and plantar fasciitis.
  • Each of your feet has over twenty muscles that benefit from strengthening.

Stair Climbing Has Many Other Health Benefits

Stair climbers provide a wide range of positive effects on your health. Some of these include:

  • Like all aerobic exercise, stair climbing improves lung capacity. You'll be able to breathe in more oxygen so that body organs will perform at peak efficiency.
  • Unlike running, it's a low to no-impact workout, so there is no wear and tear on your joints.
  • Stair climbing can strengthen the heart and improve circulation.
  • It can lower your blood pressure and increase your healthy cholesterol.
  • It can improve your mental health by releasing endorphins and improving sleep quality.

Stair Climbing Can Benefit Seniors

Stair climbing isn't typically an exercise that comes to mind if you're a senior. But, as we age, we face some complex issues that stair climbing may alleviate.

Everyone ages differently, so be sure to check with your doctor for advice on any exercise, especially if you have arthritis, joint pain or other health issues. Always perform stair climbing in a safe environment.

Stair climbing may benefit seniors because:

  • It can reduce your risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is the loss of bone density, which can lead to fractures. Breaking a bone can lead to loss of mobility, chronic pain, and the loss of independence. Stair climbing is a weight-bearing exercise, so it will help make your bones denser and stronger.
  • It can protect you from falling by improving your balance, strengthening your lower body, and improving your gait. Climbing stairs exercises the same muscles you use to keep your balance as you rise from a chair.
  • Strengthening your calf muscles will improve circulation to your heart and reduce your chances of developing deep vein thrombosis.

How To Get Started

If you haven't exercised in a while, or if stair climbing is new to you, take it slow to avoid injury. Start with only five to seven minutes a day three times a week while your body gets used to it. You can work up to thirty minutes per workout within a few weeks. When you're first starting, it's essential to pay close attention to any hip, knee, back or ankle pain you may experience. You may need to adjust your technique.

Ready to start climbing?

Here are a few more tips for developing a good technique and getting the most out of your workout:

  • Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed.
  • Wear well-fitted shoes to prevent injury.
  • Practice good posture to protect your back.
  • Keep your knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Never extend your knee beyond your toe.
  • Always warm up your major leg muscles before a workout, including calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Avoid locking your knees while climbing up.
  • Don't allow your heels to hang off the edge of the step.
  • Slow down if you feel faint or dizzy, but don't stop abruptly.
  • Cool down, allowing your heart rate to gradually return to a resting level.
  • Dress comfortably.
  • Know your target heart rate range and use a heart rate monitor while you exercise.


Stair climbing is a great workout, combining both aerobic and strength training. It's one of the best low-impact exercises for losing weight and getting fit. It can be done anywhere - in a gym, at home or anywhere you can find steps. It's also an excellent exercise for healthy seniors: It will protect you from injury in the future by strengthening essential muscles. So, start climbing your way to better health today. You'll be glad you did.

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Stair Climber FAQ

A stair climber is a type of exercise equipment that uses either a rotating series of steps or pedals pushed up and down - imitating the motion you'd make when going up a staircase. The "stairmill" option is most commonly found in gyms and health clubs, while the pedal variety can be seen both in fitness centers and in home use.
Stair climbers are low-impact, delivering an intense workout that is gentler on the joints than running on a treadmill. It also doesn't have to be either-or: if you like to mix up your workouts and target different muscle groups, alternating between using a treadmill and a stair climber is a great option.
That will depend on the stair climber you choose. Most models have clearly-listed dimensions for both floor space and ceiling height requirements, so be sure to look at them carefully and map out the space in your home before making your purchase.
You can get a good-quality stair climber for just under $1,000. If you want a high-end model exactly like what you've seen at your local gym, expect a price tag upwards of $10,000.
The more resistance levels your stair climber has, the greater variety you'll be able to get in your workouts. If you have people of multiple heights who will use the machine - for example, maybe you're 4'11" and your roommate is 6'5" - you might want to choose a model with adjustable stride lengths. From there, you should consider how much tech you want it to have, like Bluetooth connectivity with fitness apps or heart rate monitoring through hand grips and/or a chest strap.
Most stair climber manufacturers aren't quite there yet. However, at least one company offers a separate membership to an online platform where you can get live workouts, exercise in real time with a friend, or stream videos to make your workout routine more interesting.
That depends on the manufacturer's policy. Some offer no returns at all, while others may give you 4-6 weeks to try it out. You may also have to pay restocking fees if you return your stair climber.
Yes. Most stair climbers have warranty coverage on the frame and welds, parts, and labor. The timeframes vary: you might get a lifetime warranty on the frame with one manufacturer, while another only covers the frame for three years. Read the warranty coverage and terms carefully before you buy a stair climber.
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