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Can Inexpensive Signs Encourage the Use of Stairs? Results from a Community Intervention

Ross E. Andersen, PhD; Shawn C. Franckowiak, BS; Julia Snyder, BS; Susan J. Bartlett, PhD; and Kevin R. Fontaine, PhD
[+] Article and Author Information

From Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center, Baltimore, Maryland. For current author addresses, see end of text. Acknowledgments: The authors thank David Casper and the management of Marley Station Mall for assistance in conducting this investigation. Grant Support: By American Heart Association (Maryland Chapter) Investigatorship MDBG796 (Dr. Andersen), a Chesapeake Education Research Fellowship (Ms. Snyder), and grant 97214-G from the Hartford Foundation (Dr. Andersen). Requests for Reprints: Ross Andersen, PhD, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, 5501 Hopkins Bayview Circle/JHAAC 5B:81, Baltimore, MD 21224; e-mail, andersenwelchlink.welchjhu.edu. Current Author Addresses: Dr. Andersen: Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, 5501 Hopkins Bayview Circle/JHAAC SB:81, Baltimore, MD 21224.


Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1998;129(5):363-369. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-129-5-199809010-00003
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Background: The U.S. Surgeon General advocates the accumulation of moderate-intensity activity throughout the day to improve health.

Objective: To test the effectiveness of signs to encourage use of stairs instead of escalators.

Design: Community intervention.

Setting: Shopping center.

Participants: 17 901 shoppers.

Intervention: Signs promoting the health and weight-control benefits of stair use were placed beside escalators with adjacent stairs.

Measurements: The sex, age, race, weight classification, and use of stairs were observed.

Results: Overall, stair use increased from 4.8% to 6.9% and 7.2% with the health and weight-control signs, respectively. Younger persons increased their stair use from 4.6% to 6.0% with the health sign and 6.1% with the weight-control sign. Older persons almost doubled their stair use from 5.1% to 8.1% with the health sign and increased use to 8.7% with the weight-control sign. Differential use of stairs was observed between ethnic groups. Among white persons, stair use increased from 5.1% to 7.5% and 7.8% with the health and weight-control signs, respectively. Among black persons, stair use decreased from 4.1% to 3.4% with the health sign and increased to 5.0% with the weight-control sign. At baseline, lean persons used the stairs more often than overweight persons (5.4% and 3.8%, respectively). The health sign increased stair use to 7.2% among normal-weight persons and 6.3% among overweight persons; the weight-control sign prompted stair use to increase to 6.9% among persons of normal weight and to 7.8% among overweight persons.

Conclusions: Simple, inexpensive interventions can increase physical activity. Research is needed to identify effective motivators to promote activity among black persons.

Figures

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 1.
Patterns of stair use among shoppers judged to be younger than 40 years of age (white bars) or 40 years of age or older (striped bars).

Values at the top of each bar are sample percentages.

Grahic Jump Location
Grahic Jump Location
Figure 2.
Patterns of stair use among shoppers judged to be overweight (white bars) or not overweight (striped bars).

Values at the top of each bar are sample percentages.

Grahic Jump Location
Grahic Jump Location
Figure 3.
Patterns of stair use among white shoppers (white bars) and black shoppers (striped bars).

Values at the top of each bar are sample percentages.

Grahic Jump Location

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