It’s a well-known fact that it’s better for health to climb the steps rather than getting the lift but it may seem a little surprising to hear that stair climbing is officially classed as ‘vigorous exercise’. In fact, it burns more calories per minute than jogging (one and a half calories for each set of 10 upward steps, and one calorie for each set of 20 downward steps), and it improves cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength.
According to Alan Batterham, professor of exercise science at Teesside University, there are a number of health benefits to be gained from using the stairs:
“Stair climbing is … a surprisingly powerful form of exercise and has benefits that go beyond weight loss. It reduces the risk of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and breast and colon cancers.”
Until now, there’s not really been any tangible way of measuring the health benefits of choosing an energetic march up the stairs over a relaxing ride in a lift. Now, however, there is a web and app-based health initiative (StepJockey) backed by the Department of Health and funded by the Small Business Research Initiative, which is designed to encourage people to reap the health gains of using stairs.
Once you have registered online you can calculate the number of calories burned on a return trip up and down your stairs (office or home). You can also print out a poster to display on each floor of your building which includes a QR code that can be scanned using a mobile phone allowing people to track and measure their calorie burn, and share this information with their friends. Or, for organisations that want to really encourage staff to get involved in the scheme, there’s the option of architect-quality acrylic or glass signs, or even bespoke signage to match an organisation’s branding, all containing QR coding.
StepJockey is one of many ways of promoting the health and wellbeing of staff in the workplace, and there are many other aspects that might be considered by employers in order to help keep staff healthy. For free guidance from occupational health professionals on maintaining staff health, or for guidance on helping employees work existing despite health conditions, see the online resources offered by the Health for Work Adviceline.