What would it take to get shoppers to use the stairs instead of the escalator? A team of British researchers recently discovered that healthy messages posted near stairwells attract people—and might even encourage them to opt for the stairs later in the day. The study appeared in the September/October issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.
Nearly 82,000 pedestrians were observed over a 6-week period in a shopping mall in England. According to researchers, the messages “Take the Stairs” and “7 Minutes of Stair Climbing Daily Protects Your Heart” increased stair climbing by 190% and boosted climbing on a nearby staircase with no messages by 52%. The researchers posted the messages on one of two staircases separated by plants and a pair of escalators. At first, they decorated the target staircase with a colorful design, which did little to attract climbers. After adding the message, however, the researchers saw a significant shift in traffic.
While encouraging in the short-term, the long-term effect of such action is uncertain, according to Sandra Ham, a health statistician at the CDC. Stairwell changes “may be more effective during the first few months of motivational messages, because the novelty of the messages may wear off over time and people would go back to their patterns of using the elevator,” Ham said in a press release.
Last year, the Texas legislature passed a bill requiring mandatory fitness testing in its schools (grades 3–12). To help fulfill this requirement, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) selected FITNESSGRAM, created by The Cooper Institute in Dallas, as the statewide physical fitness assessment tool.
FITNESSGRAM measures aerobic capacity, body composition, muscular strength, endurance and flexibility. Students do not “pass” or “fail” tests; rather, each student’s performance is evaluated against healthy standards based on gender and age. The goal is for all students to achieve a “Health Fitness Zone” for each test. Administrators compile results in a report and, when appropriate, include suggestions for improvement.
The TEA will oversee the statewide implementation of FITNESSGRAM, and results will be shared with the Texas Legislature each year. Parents can request details of their own children’s physical fitness assessments.