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Hundreds take to the stairs to raise money for cancer research

Over 100 staff from across Europe climbed the world’s tallest buildings on their office stairs this October in a challenge to bolster workplace health and help raise funds for the World Cancer Research Fund UK.

The Towers Stair Climbing Challenge encouraged teams from government departments, business, universities and councils to burn calories on the stairs equivalent to climbing eight of the tallest buildings in the world. Starting at the Great Pyramid in Egypt and finishing at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai which stands at a staggering 828m high.

The challenge was run in partnership with StepJockey, a Department of Health backed startup that creates healthier workplaces by 'nudging' staff and visitors to take the stairs and ditch the lift. Using StepJockey's evidence-based smart-signs, free smartphone app and online challenge software, individuals can record their climbs, view progress and compare their performance with other players via leaderboards.

Collectively, teams of staff at six organisations burnt an incredible 56,079 calories on the stairs raising thousands of pounds for cancer prevention research in just 4 weeks. Tom Ingram, Corporate Development Manager at World Cancer Research Fund UK said: "We were amazed at the response to the challenge and thrilled that so many individuals and businesses signed up to climb the stairs and raise thousands of pounds for cancer prevention research".

The "Stepping Up" team made up of members of staff at the UK Home Office, based in the 21-storey Lunar House in Croydon, burnt the most calories during the challenge clocking up an impressive 18,010 calories in total. Kellee Quick who led the Home Office team said: "We really got behind the challenge here. Team members were climbing wherever and whenever they could and really got into the competitive spirit."

As part of their involvement, the team also raised enough money to support 13 hours of vital cancer prevention research.

UK workers now spend more time sitting than ever before with office based workers spending on average 75% of their waking hours sitting down according to a major new report by UK Active. Sedentary behaviour (sitting too much) has been linked to a wide range of health related issues including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer. The World Cancer Research Fund says that there is strong evidence that being physically active reduces your risk of three types of common cancer.

By encouraging everyone to make a simple change to their daily routine at work and take the stairs rather than the lift they can truly bolster their cardiovascular fitness and improve heart health

Paul Nuki, StepJockey’s CEO

European competition

A wide range of companies took part in the challenge including Coventry City Council, Newcastle University, CROS NT, Future Science Group, The7Stars Media Agency and the Home Office. When participants were surveyed at the end of the four-week event, over 90% said they felt their health had improved. Kellee continued: "It was obvious that the length of time it took us to climb the 21 floors significantly decreased as the weeks went on. It was a really fantastic effort from all concerned."

Creating healthy habits at work is key to tackling sedentary office environments, and simple swaps such as ditching the lift and taking the stairs can have profound and long lasting health benefits, including reducing the risk of some cancers.

Find out more about StepJockey by watching this video for an introduction to how the initiative works.

Visit the World Cancer Research Fund’s website to find out about the best ways to prevent cancer or to donate to the charity.