I am researching for a paper on the differing energy required for users to run up and down differing Sets of Stairs.

This is specifically for outdoor Sets of Stairs which can vary greatly in 1) Ave step height 2) Ave step depth 3) number of steps 4) number of platforms 5) Ave length of platforms.

Taking these 5 basic data points into consideration, I need to put together a formula that can calculate the energy expelled, or Calories burnt, for a specific user when taking into consideration their height and weight.

The general hypothesis of the paper is to show that 20 minutes running up and down a very steep Set of Stairs consumes a materially greater amount of energy than a shallow Set of Stairs which in turn consumes a materially greater amount of energy than standard flat surface running.

Any comments, suggestions or links to other sources would be greatly appreciated.


closed as too broad by stafusa, sammy gerbil, Mitchell, heather, Bill N Nov 14 '17 at 2:45

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ I have voted to close this question as being too broad to answer. While it is easy to provide comments and suggestions, devising such a formula (even an approximate one) would require an inordinate amount of research and effort. As for providing links, it is your responsibility to do some research to look for these. You have not mentioned any sources, nor explained what difficulty you are having in finding them. You have only given a list of requirements. -1 for insufficient research effort. $\endgroup$ – sammy gerbil Nov 11 '17 at 0:12
  • $\begingroup$ Related : Climbing Stairs and Calories Burnt $\endgroup$ – sammy gerbil Nov 11 '17 at 0:19

You won't find a reasonable and generally applicable formula for this. Even if it were possible to calculate the mechanical work done by the major muscle groups during the exercise (which would depend on the specifics of bone structure and musculature of each participant, as well as the running technique used), it's another matter altogether to connect that with the raw metabolic energy burned in the process. Much of that energy goes into friction and heat, and precisely how much depends on the person in question.

To the best of my knowledge, the only way to get a truly accurate measure of how many calories are burned during a particular exercise is to measure it directly. For example, measuring the carbon dioxide concentration in exhaled breath can provide a pretty good idea of the rate at which your body metabolizes glucose, and therefore the rate at which you are burning nutritional calories. But you're certainly not going to get an accurate and generally applicable formula from a basic physics point of view.

All that being said, you could probably put together some convincing arguments in terms of which general kinds of movements are biomechanically more difficult, in the sense that more mechanical work would be done by the major muscle groups. For that, you'd need to model the muscles and bones of your legs as levers and "ropes", and calculate the amount of work done by the muscles for each exercise.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much for your prompt comments. Much appreciated. I have asked for comments/feedback on several different platforms therefore I will digest all information and then get back to you with some direct comments on your response. Cheers $\endgroup$ – James G Nov 10 '17 at 6:48

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