Why I take the stairs at the BBC
- 14 November 2013
- From the section Health
When we moved offices from Television Centre to New Broadcasting House a year ago, I made a resolution: I would not use the lift. In more than a year I have pretty much stuck to it.
It's not a big deal - I don't work in the Shard. There are just 56 steps down from my floor to the newsroom, via a spiral staircase. But it adds up over time, especially if you include trips to other parts of the building like Panorama (4th floor, 48 steps), or the World TV studios and make-up on Basement level 3 (114 steps).
The main reason I do it is because I'm impatient - I hate waiting for the lift. I've found it is usually faster to walk. But of course I also know it is good for me.
Stair climbing is officially classed as "vigorous exercise", burns more calories per minute than jogging and improves cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength.
Apparently you burn one and a half calories for every 10 upward steps and one calorie for every 20 steps down.
Now there is a web and app-based health initiative called StepJockey designed to encourage people to reap those health gains.
Its grand ambition is to "label the stairs of the world for calorie burn".
Once you have signed up online you can then enter your office stairs on the website. That means counting the number of steps between each floor. It then calculates the number of calories you use every time you make a return trip.
If your building signs up to the scheme you may start seeing StepJockey scan points by the stairwell on each floor, which climbers can use to log their stair count.
A gimmick? Perhaps. But self-monitoring health apps are hugely popular and have helped many people to improve their fitness.
StepJockey is backed by the Department of Health - receiving funding through the Small Business Research Initiative.
Alan Batterham, professor of exercise science at Teesside University, said: "StepJockey helps individuals to build a vigorous physical activity into their daily routine and is an excellent, time-efficient way to increase fitness and control weight.
"Stair climbing is also 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."
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London said: "This initiative is a great mix of old fashioned common sense and smart technology to track and incentivise".
It is certainly needed. The number of obese people in the UK has trebled in just 25 years. Only a third of adults in England do the recommended 2.5 hours or more of moderate-intensity activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week.
Even small amounts of exercise can be good for health. So if you see a StepJockey sign next to the stairs in your office, you know what to do.