The real reason you're not taking the stairs

Getty Images Image by: Getty Images Author: Canadian Living


The real reason you're not taking the stairs

It’s one of the most common tips you hear about how to squeeze a little more physical activity into your day: Take the stairs. With all we now know about the “sitting disease,” you’d think we’d all step to it. And, yet, taking elevators and escalators can be one of the most difficult habits to break.

If you’ve ever wondered why you made a snap decision to get on an escalator when you could have taken the stairs right next to it, a new study might shed some light. It turns out that if the escalator is very far away from the stairs—100 percent away—you’ll take the stairs.

If, like many North Americans, you come up woefully short of the recommended 10,000 steps a day we should all be taking, giving up escalators could really make a difference to your health.

Researchers from Montreal’s Concordia University and Beijing’s Peking University wanted to test the theory that side-by-side escalators and stairs tend to funnel pedestrians away from the calorie burning option, the stairs.

They set up shop in seven shopping centres in downtown Montreal and monitored 13 stairways and 12 pairs of escalators, according to a press release. They counted a total of 33,793 pedestrians over 35 days during two time periods, 10:30 a.m. to noon, and 12:30 pm to 2:30 p.m., according to a press release.

Out of sight, out of mind
When the escalator was far away from the stairs, shoppers were more about 70 percent more likely to take the stairs going up. And about 20 percent more likely to take the stairs going down, according the study, recently published in the journal Environment and Behavior.

Senior author John Zacharias, who conducted the study while a faculty member in the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment at Concordia and who is now a professor at the University of Peking, suggested that architects and builders could create real health benefits by taking these findings into account.

In the meantime, it's something to consider the next time you're about to step on the escalator. Look for the nearest stairs, of course.

Read on for more fitness motivation tips and ideas for indoor workouts.


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The real reason you're not taking the stairs