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How I climbed one million steps

A former librarian turned computer expert has become the first individual to clock up over one million steps on the StepJockey app.

One million steps equals:

  • 17 times up mountain Everest
  • 344 times up the Burj Khalifa
  • 1,582 times up Big Ben
  • 2,353 times up the Sydney Opera House

John Boyer, 61, says he has never been good at sport but took up stair climbing when his employer BNP Paribas first introduced StepJockey throughout its London offices two years ago.

“When it launched I thought this is something I can do”, said Boyer who works on the bank’s trading systems for bonds and financial derivatives.

“My work is desk-based but every half hour or so I get up and walk down and then up six flights. It takes just two minutes but it’s enough to get your heart rate up a bit and everything ticking over.”

Boyer kicked things off by creating a team in the BNP Paribas StepJockey stair challenge called Per Ardua ad Astra (Through struggle to the stars). The five strong-team took the top spot in the first challenge and were runners up in the second.

“It just became a habit from there. When the second challenge finished I just thought to myself, I wonder if I can clock up a million steps. It’s taken a while but I’ve done it”.

Long term studies show that the cardiovascular exercise provided by stair climbing has a significant and positive impact on human health, reducing average early all-cause mortality by about a third if sustained over time.

In Boyer’s case it has had two distinct, additional benefits. “I used to suffer from knee joint pain caused by mild arthritis but the stair climbing has made a big difference. Also, I’m a lot more aerobically fit than I was when I started. I walk at the weekends and now frequently beat my wife to the top of hills.”

Stair climbing is one of a number of exercises recommended by Arthritis Research UK.

“Many people are afraid to exercise because they believe it causes further damage to their joints. But your body is designed to move, so to prolong the life of your joints, you should remain active”, it advises.

Boyer says that the stairs at BNPP have become “considerably busier” since StepJockey was installed and that he is seldom alone on the stairs. His regular two minute climbs are occasionally augmented by a half-hour lunchtime session which he combines with reading a novel.

“Sometimes I read going up and and down. It might sound a little odd but I’ve got through a fair bit of War and Peace on the stairs,” he said.

Ian Mackenzie, Head of Pension & Benefits at BNP Paribas, has responsibility for wellness at the bank. "We are delighted for John and all the other members of the BNP Paribas London team who have taken to the stairs over the last few years", he said. "Stair use has been a simple but valuable cultural shift for us - one which is making us a healthier and more active business."

Boyer says one of the main advantages to stair climbing over other forms of exercise is that it can be integrated into the working day and does not require any special kit. The only time he takes the lift is for a journey in the morning where he returns to his desk with a pot of hot tea.

Asked what his goal would be now he has passed the million stair mark, Boyer had no hesitation. “The next stop is two million”, he said.

                                                                                     image of John Boyer, Stepjockey's first million stairs man

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