Climbing one step at a time burns more calories than leaping up several stairs, according to scientists from the University of Roehampton.
They found climbing five flights of stairs five times a week—an ascent of around 15 metres—burnt an average of 302 calories if the stairs were taken one at a time.
But taking two steps with every stride will only burn 260 calories, they say.
Lewis Halsey, senior lecturer in comparative and environmental physiology at the university, said: “We were really interested to find out what expended more energy overall—attacking the stairs two at a time and climbing them quickly, or taking them more sedately one step at a time and reaching the top more slowly,” the Daily Mail reports.
“Our study reported the calories burned ascending stairs, the potential weight loss value of climbing stairs if done regularly and frequently during the week, and also the different energy costs of ascending stairs one step at a time versus two steps at a time.
“And our conclusion: it is better to take the stairs one at a time, if you want to burn the most calories.”
He added that the greater total energy expenditure of one-step ascents must be partly explained by the fact it takes longer.
But there might be a bio-mechanical explanation too.
Taking the stairs one at a time may result in faster rates of muscle shortening, which increases energy turnover.
Previous research from the University of Ulster found office workers who began regularly climbing stairs quickly improved their fitness.
Researchers divided office workers into two groups. One climbed staircases located within an eight-storey office block, consisting of 145 steps. They began by climbing the stairs once a day and gradually built up to three over the following five weeks.
The average speed they climbed was 75 steps a minute.
At the end of the trial, the stairclimbing group showed a significant 10 percent increase in a reading called predicted VO2 max.
This is measured using your pulse—the time interval between your heartbeats is used to find out how well your body takes up and uses oxygen.