Amy Esser writes:
Prompted by recent work with clients on changing behaviours in the area of physical activity, I decided to enrol London office employees in a fitness challenge; to collectively climb the height of Mount Everest in four weeks by climbing the stairs at work.
So, doing the sums, Mount Everest is 29,029 feet high, or 8,848 metres, which equates to 58,070 steps or 3,871 flights of stairs. There are 10 flights of stairs leading up to our office, which means in order to complete the climb in four weeks (20 working days) we need to complete a total of 388 climbs – an average of 19.4 times a day. There are around 40 people in the office on a typical day which means that each individual needs to climb the stairs every other day – but will they? …
So far I am feeling positive – by Day 2 we had already reached the height of Ben Nevis, and if we continue like this we will reach the top of Mount Everest in half the time, although I sense enthusiasm may decline as the days go by.
My theory is that we need to change people’s habits so they fit exercise into their daily routine. Our challenge is about getting people to ditch the elevator for the stairs. And it’s tougher than it should be – our office building has been designed to lure you straight into a lift as you enter whilst the stairs have been hidden behind doors and corridors. One of the first questions I was asked about the challenge was, ‘where are the stairs?’! The actual experience of climbing the stairs is poor and uninspiring. The walls are grey, there are no windows, and our building managers prohibit us from putting up any motivational posters in the stairwells.
What we have been able to do is to encourage people and to communicate the benefits of taking part. One stair climb burns 30 calories, climbing the stairs will tone your legs and bum, and increase your confidence. Having a visual representation of the climb also really helps people engage. We have a log sheet where people sign their names after they have finished a climb, and this act of making your mark gives a sense of achievement and a sense of being part of a group activity.
Personally I’ve found this rewarding: I started a small social movement, and people are thanking me for it, so it seems that some people did want to be prodded to act. And I’ll be interested to see what happens once the challenge is over – will people continue to take the stairs instead of the lift?