Stair running is an excellent way to burn calories and tone legs. Because your legs are working through a longer range of motion by stepping up stairs, more of your leg muscles are being used and you will get a noticeable tone. In order to minimize any damage to your knees, I want you to focus on being as smoothe as possible. When you are walking down the stairs don't thud , try to be quiet and smoothe. This will protect your knees and will help you burn even more calories. In 30 minutes of this, at a decent pace, you should burn about 250 calories. If you do this 4-5x a week you will lose at least a pound a month without doing anything else as far as excercise or diet. Combine it with a more healthy diet and some simple ab or leg exercises and you will lose about a pound a week.