Be well: Why it's wise to ditch the elevator and take the stairs

Taking the stairs instead of the elevator can help burn extra calories, strengthen leg muscles and boost energy. Check out this latest entry in Fox News Digital's "Be Well" health series.

Be well: Why it's wise to ditch the elevator and take the stairs

When it comes to healthy living, every step counts — literally.

Next time you’re faced with the choice of taking the elevator or the stairs, choose the latter. 

It will burn some extra calories, strengthen leg muscles and give you a quick energy boost.

Ten minutes of climbing stairs will burn around 100 calories for a 165-pound person, according to the American Council on Exercise. It burns even more calories than jogging. 

Studies have shown that climbing stairs qualifies as a vigorous physical activity, which contributes to greater heart health, via Verywell Health.

The benefits come from not only the extra steps, but also from the added incline.

"Compared to walking on a flat surface, climbing stairs requires people to raise their own body weight against the forces of gravity, putting extra stress on muscles and the cardio-respiratory system," Kelly Jones, MS, RD, a performance dietitian and consultant in Philadelphia, told Fox News Digital in an email. 

"Working against gravity also improves bone health, on top of muscular strength benefits," Jones said. 

"When stairs are taken regularly, the body is better able to recover from added stress to become stronger and more metabolically efficient, positively impacting health."

She also said, "Daily stair climbing is associated with a reduced risk for metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that increase the risk of premature death. This includes markers such as blood cholesterol and triglycerides, blood sugar and blood pressure." 

And for those who struggle to squeeze exercise into busy schedules, choosing the stairs over the elevator contributes to non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), a term that refers to all energy expended during waking hours.

"NEAT includes any lifestyle activities that promote movement, energy expenditure and even mental health," Jones explained. 

These include anything from working on a computer to cleaning the house to climbing a flight of stairs.

Research has shown that even small amounts of exercise can add up to significant health benefits. 

Just 11 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each day can help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.