Increasing Stair Usage in a University Residential Complex

Jeffrey Pauline, Syracuse University, USA

Theme: Exercise and health behaviors

Poster Number: 112

Program ID: POS-2

Presentation: October 4, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


The prevalence of obesity in the U.S. is at an all-time high for most age groups (including college students) and racial backgrounds (Flegal, Carroll, Ogden, & Curtin, 2010). The time period young adults spend in college is viewed as a critical period of weight gain (Anderson, Shapiro, Lundgren, 2003). Physical activity is an important component of weight loss and weight maintenance (Williams, 2004). The reduction in physical activity, competing sedentary activities (readings, studying, or computer use), and a change in eating habits has created an ideal environment for weight gain among college students (Douglas et al., 1997). Therefore, identifying methods to increase everyday physical activity is critical. One of the more common, inexpensive, and effective interventions to increase physical activity are point-of-decision prompts such as motivational signage (Soler et al., 2010). The purpose of this study was be to examine the impact of tailored motivational messages (point-of-decision prompts and cues to action) to increase stair use within an on-campus residential complex (two connected residential halls). The three-phase observational study monitored stair and elevator usage with directional infrared sensors. A baseline measurement of stair and elevator use was completed 24-hours a day for two weeks (Phase I). The intervention utilized point-of-decision prompts and cues to action to increase stair usage (Phase II). One residential hall was exposed to the point-of-decision prompts (motivational signage) and the other residential hall received cues to action via email for two weeks. The last phase (Phase III), stair and elevator usage was recorded for two weeks without the motivational messages or email reminders. Stair-use rates increased significantly from Phase I (baseline) to Phase II (Intervention) for both the motivational message and email reminder groups. The significant increase in stair usage was maintained during Phase III. Recommendations for future research will also be presented.

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