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Mayor Bloomberg Promotes Exercise-Friendly Architecture To Fight Obesity

Designers are given a chance to help promote healthy living across New York City.

Ross Brooks
Ross Brooks on July 19, 2013. @greenidealism

Architects often see stairs as a design feature that takes up a lot of space, as well as something that isn’t able to add much to a building’s overall aesthetic. In an attempt to get people exercising more, the Mayor of New York is trying to bring stairs to the forefront – quite literally.

The Center for Active Design was recently set up to combat the tendency for architects and planners to value convenience, which often leads to a more sedentary lifestyle, and in many cases, obesity.

By making architects part of the solution, the city aims to facilitate designs that encourage people to move around more often, whether they’re inside a building, or out on the streets.

Taking the stairs instead of an elevator, or an escalator, can do wonders for your health – even it’s only two minutes every day.

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Four key concepts that the center aims to adhere to are:

  • Active buildings: encouraging greater physical movement within buildings for users and visitors;
  • Active transportation: supporting a safe and vibrant environment for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders;
  • Active recreation: shaping play and activity spaces for people of different ages, interests, and abilities; and
  • Improving access to nutritious foods in communities that need them most.

Mayor Bloomberg talked about how New York was a leader when it came to encouraging healthy eating, and there was no reason why it couldn’t also become a leader when it comes to promoting more exercise.

One issue that may stand in the way is the number of safety concerns and security measures that are often taken in New York. Many emergency exits and stairwells are alarmed, making it impossible to use the stairs even if you wanted to.

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New legislation will try and combat this issue, offering ways around the alarms so that people can use the stairs more often. There is also the option of an alternative staircase that office workers can actually use, completely separate from the “emergency only” option.

Center for Active Design

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