why is going up the stairs (or up a hill) so much more physically intensive?


I am not very fit, but I do walk a lot. However when I go up 3 flights of stairs I am out of breath. How come?

In: 0

Going up means overcoming gravity which is pretty strong on Earth, all things considered. Just walking means overcoming air resistance mostly, which isn’t very strong at normal walking speed with no wind.

it’s like this:

it’s easier to drag a bucket of water 1 meter than to lift a bucket of water 1 meter.

This is due to two different things.

gravity and muscles being used.

to elevate an object, you need to apply more force than the force of gravity. In other words, you need to overpower gravity.

the muscles being used… you’re used to walking, walking is normal, and there is a set number of muscles being used. when you go upstairs, or walk at an incline, you’re engaging different muscles and engaging the same muscles to a different degree. So, to visualize this, think of a hand truck. Moving it along a flat floor uses teh wheels just fine. but when you want to move it up the stairs, you need move it to the stairs, then the wheels need to roll along a verticle wall of the step. That’s basically you using the same muscles in a different fashion and you’re not as acclimated to do so.

combined, you’re using more energy to overcome gravity and using different muscles to do so.

You are climbing against a “grade” or angled surface. Add the steps and now you got means to go against the grade but with mechanical effort and ability you just got a nice little workout.

Walking, much like orbiting the planet, is just controlled falling. Gravity is assisting your movement.

When you are going upstairs, you are lifting your whole body up with your legs against gravity. When you are going down, you kind of just drop and catch yourself with gravity being your pal instead of your enemy.

Similarly with hills, climbing ropes, etc.