Does Running Stairs or Laps Make You Lose Weight Faster?

Running up stairs may be slow, but it burns a lot of calories.
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The key to weight loss is burning calories; for every 3,500 excess calories you burn you'll lose a pound of weight. Running on the track is a great calorie burner, but exactly how many calories you burn will depend on your speed. If you can run fast enough it will help you lose weight faster than by running up stairs.

Running Up Stairs

Running up stairs has a metabolic equivalent task (MET) value of 15 -- meaning it burns 15 times the calories you burn at rest. A 150-pound person will burn 238 calories in 15 minutes of stair running. This works out to about three hours and 40 minutes of running to burn 1 pound of fat.

Slow Running

Running on the track at an easy pace of 12 minutes per mile has an MET value of 8, meaning it burns eight times the calories you do at rest. While this is impressive, it's less effective than running up stairs. For a 150-pound person this works out to a 119-calorie burn in 15 minutes. At this rate you would need to run for about seven hours and 20 minutes in total to burn a pound of fat.

Moderate Running

Running at a moderate 8-minute-per-mile pace has an MET value of 12.5 -- still less than running up stairs. A 150-pound person burns 196 calories per 15 minutes at this pace, meaning it would take about four and a half hours of running at this pace to burn 1 pound of fat.

Fast Running

Running at a relatively quick pace of 6.5 minutes per mile has an MET value of 15 -- the same as running up stairs. This means you'll lose the same number of calories in the same period of time as running up stairs and you can expect the same weight-loss results. If you can run even faster, you'll burn more calories per minute and lose weight faster. For instance, running at a pace of 5.5 minutes per mile you'll burn 289 calories per 15 minutes. This works out to about a pound of weight lost in three hours of running.


You'll only lose weight if you consume fewer calories than you burn. If you maintain your current diet and add running to your regimen, you should lose weight. But if you eat back all your calories, you won't lose any weight. Aim for a healthy daily calorie deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories through a combination of exercise and reducing your intake. Talk to your doctor before starting a workout or weight-loss program.

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