Life Balance: Encourage Exercise, Take the Stairs

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, September 18th, 2014

Better access to stairs in office buildings and reminding people to use them encourages workers to get more exercise and improve life balance, a new study suggests. This has already proven to increase physical activity in places like subway stations and shopping malls.

The report also offers evidence that natural light in stairwells is important, according to a statement from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The health department’s Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention and Tobacco Control conducted the study, which only included city employees.

life balance - walk stairs“Adults spend a large portion of their life in their workplace, and having access to and incorporating physical activity into one’s day can have a positive impact on health,” the department’s statement read.

Ryan Richard Ruff, director of the Research & Evaluation Unit at the health department, led the study. He and his coauthors analyzed assessments of 14 New York City buildings alongside physical activity surveys of their 1,300 total employees.

Small signs were placed at elevator call buttons and stairway entrances reminding employees to “burn calories, not electricity” by using the stairs. These prompts included information about the benefits of taking the stairs, on personal health and the environment.

Employees were about three times more likely to use stairs in buildings with stair prompts. More than half of participants said they climbed at least one flight of stairs at work per day.

Stairwells that had natural lighting and were visible from lobby entrances were also more frequently used than darker or more distant ones.

People working on higher floors were less likely to take the stairs. The authors suggest encouraging employees to take the stairs for at least part of the journey and take the elevator the rest of the way.

“These types of actions are necessary as today nearly 60 percent of NYC adults and 40 percent of school children are overweight or obese,” according to the health department statement. “Regular physical activity and healthy eating are key factors in addressing the epidemic, and the scientific evidence now tells us that creating environments that support people in the behavior changes they are trying to make helps people to be successful at accomplishing these healthier behaviors.”

Get tips to increase exercise, healthy habits at work and life balance at SelfCare for HealthCare™. Contact me today to talk about implementing a work life balance program at your organization.

One response to “Life Balance: Encourage Exercise, Take the Stairs”

  1. Kim Dickey says:

    I attended our hospital Shared Gov meeting for the first time today at Memorial in Sav Ga…What a treat to hear you speak!!
    Your words were fresh, encouraging and very unexpected. I am very excited to hear how this program unfolds for our hospital. Thank you…God has truly blessed you with a gift of communicating, encouraging and loving on nurses!!

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