Promoting Routine Stair Use

Evaluating the Impact of a Stair Prompt Across Buildings


      Although studies have demonstrated that stair prompts are associated with increased physical activity, many were conducted in low-rise buildings over a period of weeks and did not differentiate between stair climbing and descent.


      This study evaluated the impact of a prompt across different building types, and on stair climbing versus descent over several months.


      In 2008–2009, stair and elevator trips were observed and analyzed at three buildings in New York City before and after the posting of a prompt stating “Burn Calories, Not Electricity” (total observations=18,462). Sites included a three-story health clinic (observations=4987); an eight-story academic building (observations=5151); and a ten-story affordable housing site (observations=8324). Stair and elevator trips up and down were recorded separately at the health clinic to isolate the impact on climbing and descent. Follow-up was conducted at the health clinic and affordable housing site to assess long-term impact.


      Increased stair use was seen at all sites immediately after posting of the prompt (range=9.2%–34.7% relative increase, p<0.001). Relative increases in stair climbing (20.2% increase, p<0.001) and descent (4.4% increase, p<0.05) were seen at the health clinic. At both sites with long-term follow-up, relative increases were maintained at 9 months after posting compared to baseline: 42.7% (p<0.001) increase in stair use at the affordable housing site and 20.3% (p<0.001) increase in stair climbing at the health clinic.


      Findings suggest that the prompt was effective in increasing physical activity in diverse settings, and increases were maintained at 9 months.
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        American Journal of Preventive MedicineVol. 42Issue 4
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          Lee KK, Perry AS, Wolf SA, et al. Promoting routine stair use: evaluating the impact of a stair prompt across buildings. Am J Prev Med 2011;42(2):136–41.
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