This is a great question and the article below does an excellent job in answering it. Read it and put it to use in your future. I spend so much of my day trying to convince my clients to bend their knees so they utilize more leg muscles. Most people have a tendency to keep their legs very stiff and straight; which causes the low back, neck and knee joints to carry the burden. Going up and down stairs makes you bend the knees and wake up those leg muscles!!!
Ask Well: A Long Walk or a Short Stair Climb?
By Gretchen Reynolds (The New York Times)
Q Every morning I have a choice: climb 60 stairs to get to my office, or walk down the hall, take the elevator to the third floor, and walk back – about 200 steps total. So which is better for my health, steps or stairs?
In the broadest terms, there is no wrong selection here, since both walking — even a few hundred steps — and climbing the stairs are better for your health than avoiding physical activity altogether.
But if you want to get picky about which is healthier, go for the stairs, says Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. “The relative effort required to ascend the stairs would be higher than for walking on flat ground,” he said.
In fact, according to recent estimations, slowly climbing stairs demands almost twice as much energy per minute as does walking along a flat surface at an everyday (not brisk) pace. In practical terms, those numbers mean that you can burn nearly twice as many calories per minute climbing the stairs as strolling down the hall.
Even descending the stairs requires more calories, per minute, than walking over flat ground.
The added intensity of stair climbing also increases cardiovascular fitness more effectively than the same amount of time spent walking, Dr. Gibala said. Plus, you activate and strengthen more muscles in your legs and back while climbing and descending stairs than you do while strolling, and may subtly improve your balance.
Over all, Dr. Gibala said, “when you climb stairs compared to when you walk along a hallway, you get more ‘bang’” from the same number of minutes spent moving.