One of the most widely shared ways to live a more active lifestyle is to take the stairs whenever you have the option to, but is it really an effective way to burn calories?

Although taking the stairs in and of itself probably won’t help you see a noticeable difference in your weight–unless you live on the tenth floor–even just a flight or two a day will add to your step count, give your heart rate a brief boost, and get your muscles warmed up and activated.

Skipping down stairs won’t make a big difference, but going up certainly can. On average, you will burn about 0.17 calories for each stair you clim. So, climbing 10 steps burns about 1.5 calories–not bad for just a few seconds of effort. To do the math, just note that there are generally 12-13 stairs in a flight, which equates to roughly 2.21 calories per flight climbed.

If you live or work on the tenth floor, you will burn about 22.1 calories climbing up to your door. You can add to this number if you’re carrying heavy bags or moving quickly. However, the benefit in climbing stairs isn’t all summed up in the amount of calories. Anyone who has climbed stairs before knows that they can instantly activate your body’s biggest muscles, which is why the stair climber is one of the most popular pieces of equipment at the gym.

When you climb stairs, even if it doesn’t burn a lot of calories, it does activate your muscles and gets them working. That helps to preserve muscle mass and, overtime, even build muscle mass if you are consistently using the stairs and increasing the intensity (by climbing faster, climber further, or carrying more).

So, to recap, simply taking the stairs in and of itself probably won’t give you your dream body. However, it will help you get into that mindset of living a healthier, more active lifestyle. And, overtime, these little changes do add up. As they turn into healthy habits, you will definitely begin to see big changes in the way you look, think, and feel.