Uni’s stairs aren’t much exercise

Reed Phillips, Staff Writer

Does climbing Uni’s stairs help keep you fit? It’s possible that the extra effort in your legs helps build muscle. But an easier question to answer is: Does climbing stairs burn extra calories?

A typical 120-pound human consumes 320 Watts of power while walking. Most of that power goes toward things like maintaining body temperature and keeping your heart beating, but some goes to physically moving your body forward.

The Uni school day (excluding Uni Period) has ten times that students typically walk: passing periods before each of the eight periods, one before lunch, and one after eighth period. Assuming an average of two minutes of walking in each of those times, the typical Uni student consumes 385000 Joules of energy during that time.

That sounds like a lot. But most people would be more comfortable with seeing that number in calories. That impressive-looking 385000 Joules becomes 92 Calories. Suddenly, it doesn’t sound like so much.

But the main focus here is the stairs. In an average passing period, you’ll climb about one flight of stairs. One flight climbed per passing period gives ten flights per day.

But only climbing up stairs is hard. Going up means you have to supply extra energy to fight against gravity, but going down is barely harder than walking on flat ground. Half your stair climbing is up and half is down, so our typical student climbs 5 flights of stairs per day, for about 20 meters of climbing. The work required to lift a 120-pound person by 20 meters against the Earth’s gravity is 10700 Joules.

That 10700 Joules is the extra energy you consume because you take the stairs. Like before, 10700 looks like a lot. But what is it in Calories?

2.5 Calories.

Because you climb stairs, your energy expenditure for passing periods has increased by 3%. You can treat yourself to an extra small grape each day. Of course, humans aren’t 100% efficient, so maybe you would consume two or three times more. Congratulations, an additional large grape. However you look at it, walking up stairs doesn’t burn many calories.