Elevators or stairs?

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Staff in hospitals frequently travel between floors and choose between taking the stairs or elevator. We compared the time savings with these two options.


Four people aged 26–67 years completed 14 trips ranging from one to six floors, both ascending and descending. We compared the amount of time per floor travelled by stairs and by two banks of elevators. Participants reported their fatigue levels using a modified Borg scale. We performed two-way analysis of variance to compare the log-transformed data, with participant and time of day as independent variables.


The mean time taken to travel between each floor was 13.1 (standard deviation [SD] 1.7) seconds by stairs and 37.5 (SD 19.0) and 35.6 (SD 23.1) seconds by the two elevators (F = 8.61, p < 0.001). The difference in time taken to travel by stairs and elevator equaled about 15 minutes a day. Self-reported fatigue was less than 13 (out of 20) on the Borg scale for all participants, and they all stated that they were able to continue their duties without resting. The extra time associated with elevator use was because of waiting for its arrival. There was a difference in the amount of time taken to travel by elevator depending on the time of day and day of the week.


Taking the stairs rather than the elevator saved about 15 minutes each workday. This 3% savings per workday could translate into improved productivity as well as increased fitness.

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