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Building the world’s most accurate stair climbing algorithm

At StepJockey we’re committed to an evidence based approach to health and over the past few months we’ve been involved in a scientific trial to more precisely measure calorie expenditure in stair climbing.

Our stair climbing algorithm is, we believe, the only one to take into account the full range of geometric variables within a staircase when calculating ‘calorie burn’ and the trial will enable us to fine tune it further.

Specifically the trial aims to:

  • Measure the aerobic energy expenditure associated with climbing stairs of different geometries in a modern urban cohort

  • Cross-validate with the existing StepJockey stair climbing equations  and adjust them as necessary

  • Integrate into the algorithms additional variables including Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC)

The stair climbing trial is being led by Alan Batterham, Professor in Exercise Science at Teesside University.  Alan and his team are leading authorities in measurement and evaluation issues associated with physical activity. 

How the stair climbing study is conducted

Each participant climbs two randomly selected public staircases from a range of commonly encountered stair geometries (riser height, tread depth etc.). The pace of the stair climb is self-selected based on individual preference, and the time taken to complete the climb is recorded.

Each stair climb is repeated 2-3 times (interspersed by descent) to allow the participant to reach a ‘steady state’ for energy expenditure (typically reached in 90-100 seconds).  During each climb, participants wear a portable metabolic system to record oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide production. 

Heart rate is also being recorded throughout each trial using chest-mounted telemetry monitors. All staircases are pre-measured for riser height, tread depth, number of stairs, and the dimensions of any horizontal sections between flights. Body mass and height are also be measured for each participant. 


The stair climbing trial is ongoing and the findings will be written up and published later this year by Alan and his team. As soon as the results are confirmed they will be used to further fine tune StepJockey’s existing algorithms.  

Why have such accurate algorithms while we could make do with approximations? The answer is that we know our users want genuine personalisation when using the StepJockey Tracking Apps and we are determined to get as close to that as modern science allows.

We also just believe that the more knowledge we accumulate about our health the more healthy we are likely to become and we a very proud to be working with Teesside University in contributing to that.

Read more about the science behind StepJockey.