Associations between building design, point-of-decision stair prompts, and stair use in urban worksites

Ryan R. Ruff, Randi Rosenblum, Sean Fischer, Hamidah Meghani, John Adamic, Karen K. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: Incidental forms of physical activity such as stair use offer frequent opportunities for energy expenditure and may contribute to the prevention and control of chronic diseases. This study analyzes the associations between building characteristics, stair prompts, and stair use in large urban worksites. Methods: Bootstrapped generalized mixed models were used to analyze self-reported stair use, using data from 1348 surveys of city employees and fourteen building assessments conducted in New York City in 2012. Results: 57% of respondents reported climbing ≥. 1 flights of stairs daily at the workplace. Model results show that stair prompts were associated with a 3.21 increased likelihood of stair use. Naturally lit stairwells and stairwell visibility were also positively associated. Higher floor residency and BMI were negatively related, as were gender, stairwell distance from lobby entrances, the total number of floors in each building, and building averages for BMI and gender. Residual heterogeneity measured by adjusted median odds ratios indicates that buildings can have a moderate effect on the likelihood of stair use beyond those of individual characteristics. Conclusions: Specific building features and stair prompts may potentially be leveraged to positively influence rates of incidental physical activity and contribute to improvements in population health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-64
Number of pages5
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Environment
  • Exercise
  • Hierarchical analysis
  • Motor activity
  • Public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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