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New health push from NYC mayor: Take the stairs

Design-thinking, Health, Policy, Psychology, activity, environment, obesity

NEW YORK — After nudging New Yorkers to stop smoking and eat better, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is working on getting them to take the stairs more often.

He proposed Wednesday to tweak the building code to promote using stairs, including by requiring new buildings and major renovations to have a stairway open for non-emergency use and by allowing them to keep stairwell doors open most of the time.

They’re part of a push to promote “active design,” or shaping the built environment to encourage physical activity. Bloomberg is styling it as the latest focus in his much-touted — and sometimes mocked — fight to curb obesity.

“New York City has been a leader when it comes to promoting healthier eating, and now we’re leading when it comes to encouraging physical activity as well,” Bloomberg said.

Active design has gained cachet in recent years among architects and public health experts, who see it as a low-key but effective way to build more exercise into lives that cars, elevators and other factors have made more sedentary over the decades. Less than half of American adults met aerobic exercise guidelines in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

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