Effect of an environmental barrier to physical activity on commuter stair use
AbstractBackground : Despite several health benefits of physical activity, few adults appear to be regularly active. The constructed environment is increasingly being recognized as a main barrier to physical activity, and is therefore important to target to encourage people to adopt a more active lifestyle. Objective: To investigate stairwell and escalator use in a train station in a situation in which the setting was modified during the intervention (one or two ascending escalators) to increase understanding of how physical activity could be promoted in such environment. Design: One hour observation of commuters (n=1614) in a situation with one (n=854) or two (n=760) ascending escalators. Results: With only one ascending escalator, 35.2% of the population decided to climb the stairwell. With two ascending escalators, stairwell use dropped to 18.2% (p=0.000). The drop in stairwell use between the two conditions was thus nearly 50% and the use of escalators increased by 27 %. Conclusions: This brief intervention provided an indication that a modification to the constructed environment influenced the decision to climb the stairwell. However, more experimental research is needed to investigate how people can be encouraged to take the stairs in similar and other settings. Keywords: community, environment, physical activity, stair use.
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