Calorie labels fitted to staircases

Calorie labels fitted to staircases


Stairwells in public buildings will be labelled as exercise apparatus under a government-backed scheme to make office workers and commuters across Britain fitter.Trials at three large office buildings found that signs advertising how many calories could be burnt by climbing a particular set of stairs increased the number of people using them by up to 29 per cent.


The scheme, based on behavioural economics or "nudge theory", is aimed at subtly influencing people's habits to help strengthen their hearts through short bursts of exercise. Stair climbing is classed by health experts as "vigorous" exercise, burning more calories than jogging, and studies have suggested that climbing stairs for seven minutes each say could halve the risk of suffering a heart attack over the next decade.


The new scheme, which will see staircases across the country labelled with calorie totals, was developed by StepJockey, with a £50 million grant from the government's Small Business Research. Using a dedicated website and app, people will be able to scan "smart signs" on stairs and track their number of calories burnt over time.


The initiative is already being adopted by a number of City firms as well as county council buildings in Hertfordshire. Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: “Anything that gets people more active and helps tackle obesity is a good thing in my book. This initiative is a great mix of old fashioned common sense and smart technology to track and incentivise.”


StepJockey's website will allow anyone to map and rate a set of stairs for calorie burn, and print off posters which can be added for others to use. Lord Howe, minister for health, said: “It is really important that we all do as much exercise as we can to reduce the risk of preventable illness and lead longer, healthier lives.


“Tackling inactivity is one of the challenges facing the NHS today and one of the reasons why we have awarded StepJockey funding through our £50 million Small Business Research Initiative.” Helen Nuki, founder of StepJockey, added: “We tell people how many calories are in food but we don’t tell them where they can burn them off.

“The world is a gym and we aim to label it as such. It has the added benefit of cutting carbon emissions by reducing the number of lift journeys."

By Nick Collins

The Telegraph, 14th November, 2013

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