I was excited to find this article about Active Design in Urban Land magazine. Arrowstreet has been working with PKF Consulting on a project for the Department of Defense called the Healthy Base Initiative. The project goal is to find innovative and affordable ways to make military installations healthier places to live and work. Like the rest of the American population, active duty military personnel are facing increasing problems with obesity. More and more of the work is computer based which results in a workforce that sits at their desks all day.
One of the programs that we are pilot testing on military installations is the StairWELL to Health, which was developed and tested for effectiveness by the Center for Disease Control. The program includes improvements to existing stairs to make them more appealing to use and placement of promotional signage to encourage occupants to use the stair instead of the elevator. Exercise in a number of short episodes throughout the day, like taking the stairs, can have a measurable positive impact on long-term health. The article in Urban Land describes similar programs in place in New York City that encourage all projects to incorporate Active Design principles, that is, design that makes physical activity part of the daily routine, like taking the stairs, walking, or biking as part of your commute or using a standing desk.
On a personal level, since I started the research on Active Design for the Healthy Base Initiative I have been taking the stairs to our 4th floor office space at work instead of the elevator. Over a few months there has been a noticeable improvement in my stair climbing capacity and a decrease in my resting heart rate. So I can attest to the effectiveness of the StairWELL program.
Next time you are waiting for the elevator, consider the free and convenient exercise opportunity only a few steps way.