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Burj Khalifa crowned as #1 active tourist destination, based on step count

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New research reveals top international monuments by step count.

With 2,909 steps, the Burj Khalifa is the best tourist destination for active holidaymakers who are looking to keep their step-count high whilst on vacation, new research has revealed.

The research, conducted by Better (GLL), compiled data of some of the most famous landmarks in the world and analysed how many steps were needed to visit 20 international monuments – either to reach the top of the building or to reach the optimal (highest) tourist viewing point - to understand which ones would get your heart rate racing the most.

The NHS lists stair climbing as an ideal, free way of staying active and healthy at home, with many turning to their stairs throughout lockdown to stay fit. It burns more calories per minute than jogging and is “good for strong bones, cardiovascular fitness and weight management,” with the monument ranking highlighting the challenges potentially lying in wait when travel restrictions are lifted.

Ordered from most to least, the research revealed the following step counts:
Claiming first place was Burj Khalifa in Dubai with 2,909 steps to level 125, followed by the One World Trade Centre in New York (2,226 steps, open for participants of official stair races). All the top four (the aforementioned, plus Willis Tower in Chicago, and KL Tower Observation Deck in Kuala Lumpur) included more than 2,000 steps.

At the bottom of the list was the Colosseum, with just 25 steps. However, visitor anecdotes reveal that these are especially steep, and may not be suitable for people with mobility issues. Joining the Colosseum at the bottom of the list were Charles Bridge Tower in Prague (138 steps), The Acropolis in Athens (150 steps), Statue of Liberty in New York (162 steps), and Big Ben in London (334 steps).

As well as analysing step count information, Better (GLL) also calculated how many times someone would have to climb their stairs at home to climb the equivalent height of relevant monuments. This part of the research revealed that you would have to climb your staircase at home more than 100 times to equate to the following: Burj Khalifa (224 climbs), One World Trade Centre (171 climbs), Willis Tower (162 climbs), KL Tower Observation Deck (158 climbs), CN Tower (137 climbs), Ostankino Tower (131 climbs), Empire State Building (121 climbs), Stratosphere Tower (112 climbs), Kotor San Giovanni Fortress Walls (104 climbs), and Sydney Harbour Bridge (102 climbs).

Lois Spencer-Tracey, a blogger from Essex, has incorporated stair climbing into her home workouts over lockdown, saying: “I started to introduce stairs into my workout routine to improve my breathing as since having long covid I always get breathless when going up stairs. I'm a runner and have done 3 marathons since 2018 but it's good to try going up stairs as a workout because it’s a very different exercise. As a result, I have found my breathlessness has really improved.”

Marco Coppola, Group Health and Fitness Manager of Better (GLL), commented on the findings: “While gyms have been shut, many have turned to their own homes to for short bursts of exercise activities, including stair climbs to get the blood pumping. With this in mind, and to also provide a fun challenge while travel restrictions remain in place, we also calculated how many times someone would have to climb their stairs at home to climb the equivalent height of each monument”.

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