Sometimes, simple is more than good enough — it’s great.
First, some background. We write often about the importance of encouraging physical movement during the day — particularly for individuals with desk jobs. Some of these posts include:
- Workplace Programs Needed to Reduce Sitting, Increase Employee Movement
- One Antidote to Sitting Too Much at Work: Stand
- Stairway to (Wellness) Heaven
But how can employers encourage employees to move during the day — even to partake in a simple (and helpful) activity like using the stairs instead of an elevator? A study from the American Journal of Health Promotion may have a solution.
The report is titled “Increasing Stair Use in an Office Worksite through an Interactive Environmental Intervention,” and it sought to “examine the effects of an interactive environmental intervention on stair usage.”
The authors found approximately 200 employees at the intervention site and 140 at the comparison site. At Site One “the stairwell was decorated with interactive paintings such as maps, storyboards, and wish lists to encourage employees to take the stairs rather than the elevator.”
Then, “daily stair and elevator usage were measured using electronic sensors or door-access card counters for 2 weeks prior to the intervention and 6 weeks after.”
The results: “At baseline, the mean proportion of stair use relative to stair plus elevator use at the intervention site was 31.5%. During the 6-week intervention period, this proportion increased significantly to 66.2%. There was no significant change in stair use at the comparison site. In a Poisson regression of the daily number of stair users, the incidence rate ratio associated with the intervention was 2.57.”
The conclusion: “This interactive environmental intervention increased stair usage in an office setting relative to the comparison site, and this increase was sustained over a 6-week period. Adding interactive components to motivational or environmental change interventions shows promise in increasing stair usage.”
Sometimes, simple works.