The aim of this study was to compare the physiological responses and energy cost between two ascending patterns, the single-step (SS) and the double-step (DS), in climbing a public staircase. In the SS pattern, a person climbs one step at a time whilst in the double-step (DS) pattern, the individual traverses two steps in a single stride. Advocates of each stepping pattern claimed that their type of ascent is physically more taxing and expends more calories. Thirty subjects (10 males and 20 females) climbed a typical 11-storey flat (each step height of 0.15 m, a total of 180 steps and a vertical displacement of 27.0 m). The subjects climbed using either the SS pattern at a tempo of 100 steps·min−1 or the DS pattern at 50 steps·min−1. The prescribed stepping frequencies ensured that an equal amount of total work was performed between the SS and DS patterns. The climbing patterns were performed in random order. Physiological measures during the last 30 s of the climbs were used in the comparative analysis. The results showed that ventilation, oxygen uptake and heart rate values were significantly higher (all p<0.01) in the SS as compared to the DS pattern. However, the caloric expenditure during the SS pattern was calculated to be only marginally higher than the DS pattern. In conclusion, ascending with the SS pattern led to significantly higher physiological responses compared to the DS pattern. The higher calorie expended with the SS compared to the DS pattern was deemed to be of little practical significance.
2005 Japan Society of Physiological Anthropology