Active Living Strategy #8

Healthy Living Strategies

Active Living Strategy #8

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Our Healthier Communities Initiatives are built on the concept that local communities can work together to give all community members healthy choices and support the pursuit of healthy lifestyles. More than 160 Ys are working in collaboration with community leaders to make changes in policies and the physical surroundings in those communities so that healthy living is within reach for individuals of all ages and backgrounds.

Use Point-Of-Decision Prompts to Promote Stair Use

Promoting physical activity through signs that highlight its benefits and art and music that make active environments more attractive can stimulate more physical activity in multiple settings. Simple environmental changes to encourage people to take the stairs have increased stair use in various public places.

Simple environmental changes to promote stair use (such as posting signs that promote the health benefits of stair use and making staircases more pleasant with artwork displays or music) have significantly increased stair use in various public places (e.g., shopping malls, train stations, airports) and university buildings. When signs promoting the health and weight-control benefits of stair use were placed beside escalators with adjacent stairs or near the stairs, significant increases in stair use were observed across age, gender and race/ethnicity groups, in both obese and non-obese people.


  1. Andersen, R.E., Franckowiak, S.C., Snyder, J., Bartlett, S.J., & Fontaine, R. K. (1998). Can inexpensive signs encourage the use of stairs? Results from a community intervention. Annals of Internal Medicine, 129, 363–369.
  2. Boutelle, K.N., Jeffery, R.W., Murray, D.M., & Schmitz, K.H. (2001). Using signs, artwork, and music to promote stair use in a public building. American Journal of Public Health, 91, 2004–2006.
  3. Brownell, K.D., Stunkard, A.J., & Albaum, J.M. (1980). Evaluation and modification of exercise patterns in the natural environment. American Journal of Psychiatry, 137, 1540–1545.
  4. Coleman, K.J., & Gonzalez, E.C. (2001). Promoting stair use in a US–Mexico border community. American Journal of Public Health, 91, 2007–2009.
  5. Kerr, J., Eves, F.F., & Carroll, D. (2001). Six-month observational study of prompted stair climbing. Preventive Medicine, 33, 422–427.
  6. Kerr, J., Eves, F.F., & Carroll, D. (2001). Getting more people on the stairs: The impact of a new message format. Journal of Health Psychology, 6(5):495–500.
  7. Marshall, A.L., Bauman, A.E., Patch, C., Wilson, J., & Chen, J. (2002). Can motivational signs prompt increases in incidental physical activity in an Australian health-care facility? Health Education Research, 17(6), 743–749.

Stair use prompt flow chart - YMCA

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