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StairWELL to Better Health

Taking the stairs is one way to be more physically active. At work, employees are often presented with a choice between taking the stairs and taking an elevator or escalator. Choosing the stairs instead of the elevator is a quick way for people to add physical activity to their day.

Using the stairs requires little additional time, no wardrobe change, and few additional costs because building code requires stairs. If your building has a staircase, why not start using it now?

One of the reasons employees may not use the stairs as work is because they perceive them as unattractive and/or unsafe. CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity conducted a study beginning in 1998 to see if making physical changes to a stairwell in the Atlanta-based Koger Center Rhodes Building, combined with music and motivational signs would motivate employees to use the stairs. A four-stage passive intervention was implemented over 3½ years that included painting and carpeting, framed artwork, motivational signs, and music. Infrared beams were used to track the number of stair users. "StairWELL to Better Health" was a low-cost intervention (less than $16,000*), and the data suggest that physical improvements, motivational signs, and music can increase stairwell use among building occupants.**

This section will provide the information you need to transform your stairs into StairWELLs for better health. The following topics are addressed in this section:

*This amount included the purchase of paint, carpet, rubber treading, picture frames, artwork, signage and installation of music.

** Kerr, N.A., Yore, M.M., Ham, S.A., & Dietz, W.H. (2004). Increasing Stair Use in a Worksite Through Environmental Changes. American Journal of Health Promotion, 18 (4): 312–315.

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