Going Up?

In the battle of stairs vs. elevator, does it matter how the stairs look?

A recent study by a team of researchers led by Professor David Bassett (Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies) has discovered that whether or not we take the stairs has less to do with whether there is an elevator available and more to do with the stairs themselves.

Bassett and his team observed stair and elevator use in three buildings on UT’s campus: Stokely Management Center, the College of Law, and the Art and Architecture building. His results concluded that design plays a big role in the choice to take the stairs and
therefore work more exercise into our daily routines.

“In the United States, buildings are often designed with a centrally located elevator, and the stairs are located in unattractive ‘fire escape’ stairwells behind heavy steel doors,” wrote the researchers in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health. “This design tends to discourage stair use, and the default decision is usually to ride the elevator. An alternative design, consisting of wide, centrally located staircases that provide a view of one’s surroundings, may encourage people to take the stairs.”

Fast Company magazine, which focuses on technology, business, and design, featured Bassett’s study in its July issue. Read the entire article at tiny.utk.edu/3ErRe.

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