Could a simple sign encourage individuals to take the stairs instead of taking the elevator?
According to a report from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (2012; 42 , 136–41), the answer is yes. Researchers observed individuals in three New York City buildings to see if posting signs that encourage stair use would change behaviors. The sites included a three-story health clinic, an eight-story academic building and a 10-story affordable housing site. The researchers observed elevator use versus stair use without signs, and then observed the use again after they had posted signs reading “Burn Calories, Not Electricity.” They logged 18,462 observations that included both ascent and descent.
The signs turned out to have a significant impact on the number of individuals who opted to take the stairs. “Increased stair use was seen at all sites immediately after posting of the prompt,” the researchers reported. In certain instances, the increase in stair use was as much as 35%. And the positive behavior continued. The study authors reported that “at both sites with long-term follow-up, relative increases were maintained at 9 months after posting compared to baseline.”