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You may have noticed cardio machines at the gym featuring a revolving set of stairs on which you must continuously climb to build leg strength and burn calories. The revolving stair machine offers a change of pace from the more common treadmill and elliptical machines in the gym while torching a similar number of calories. The exact number of calories you burn on your trek up the never-ending steps depends on your size and intensity level.
The number of calories you burn on a revolving staircase machine really depends on your intensity level. Estimates are that you'll burn anywhere from 223 to 300 calories in 30 minutes for a 150- to 155-pound person. If you plod along at a pedestrian pace, you'll burn closer to the lower end of these estimates. Working at the highest levels on the machine -- at a pace that feels like a run -- will provide the bigger burn.
The larger your body, or engine, the more energy, or calories, it takes to keep it moving. A 125-pound person going a moderate pace burns about 180 calories per 30 minutes on a revolving staircase. But, if you weigh more, you burn more. For example, a 220-pound person can burn 266 calories in the same 30 minutes. A moderate pace, as noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, means you are working at a level that causes your heart rate to raise and you break a sweat. You may be able to talk, but not sing fluidly.
Interval training may help bump your calorie burn to the higher levels. "Shape" magazine says that interval training on the revolving staircase can help a 145-pound woman burn as much as 10 calories per minute. To do intervals, begin with a warm-up at a manageable pace for about five minutes and then push your effort for one to three minutes. This high-intensity effort should leave you feeling breathless. Between the pushes, recover at a lower speed for an equal amount of time. Continue to alternate these intervals throughout your desired workout time.
Most revolving staircase machines provide a calorie-burn readout on the panel. Remember that this readout is an estimate and can be off by as much as 25 to 30 percent, John Porcari, a professor of exercise and sport science at the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse, told the "Los Angeles Times" in 2010. A revolving staircase machine counts your calories burned using an algorithm devised by the company; you can never be sure how accurate the algorithm is unless you do the same workout while being measured using special scientific equipment.
You can use the calorie-burn readout as a tool to gauge the intensity of your workout, though. If you burn 300 calories in one 45-minute workout and 400 in the next 45-minute session, you can be assured that your second workout was more intense. Even if you can't be 100 percent sure of the number of calories you burn on the revolving staircase machine, you do get the benefits of increased leg strength and less impact than running, which may be kinder to your joints and reduce your risk of injury.