Get Active!

It’s getting harder and harder to fit a decent workout into your day.  Well what if your workout was incorporated into your environment?  We are not talking about those calisthenic exercises they suggest you do in your office char.  We’re talking about Active Design Guidelines.

Created in 2010, the Active Design Guidelines aim to fight the growing problem of obesity with design that encourages movement.  Archichitecture has proven to be be an effective tool of fighting past epidemics.  Many infectous diseases, like cholera and tuberculosis, were thwarted by the development of clean water and waste systems and better designed buildings and roads.  ADG hopes to use the same concepts to make changes in the 21st century.

According to the Center for Active Design, here are a few ways to help meet these goals:

Active Design and management strategies not only provide health and environmental benefits, but also economic ones: they can also reduce long-term operating costs through increased energy efficiency. When building users choose stairs over elevators, bikes instead of cars, or active instead of passive play, they burn calories instead of electricity and carbon fuels. Active design can be mutually beneficial for occupant health, energy savings, and operating costs!

Here are a few ways to incorporate Active Design strategies in existing buildings:

1) Ensure stairs are accessible: Unlock all stair doors and provide open access to building users. Consider the use of magnetic hold-opens on stair doors to invrease the visibility of the stairs. Consider implementing a key-card or security-code system to maintain security while providing stair access to all building tenants.

2) Encourage stair use: Post the City’s free signs “Burn Calories, Not Electricity,” which can be ordered by calling 311. Make stairs more inviting by repainting or incorporating artwork or music. Enhance stair visibility by integrating fire-rated glass oon stair doors. Use signage and design treatments to improve wayfinding and to help people locate stairs.

3) Promote biking: Provide indoor bicycle storage and/or outdoor bicycle parking. More information on obtaining a free City Rack or permit to install your own bicycle racks can be found here []

4) Encourage children’s play: Provide safe indoor or outdoor recreational spaces for kids. Simple features such as colorful ground markings can inspire children to invent new games and to play more actively.

5) Facilitate exercise for adults: Provide a room with exercise equipment. Consider making it adjacent to a children’s playroom so parents can exercise while keeping an eye on their kids.

6) Create community: Designate a multi-use room for social gatherings, exercise classes, and other activities.

7) Create a garden: Large or small, in a yard or on a roof, gardens are good for health. Gardening is a great form of physical activity for people of all ages. And gardens provide fresh, healthy food while helping to create a sense of community.

8) Provide water fountains: Promote access to a healthy and sustainable beverage option. Providing a spigot on the water fountain allows users to safely fill a reusable water bottle.

9) Change the food environment: Reduce, change, or eliminate unhealthy food and beverage vending machines.

10) Beautify your street: Order a street tree. The NYC Department of Parks and Recreation plants street trees free-of-charge on sidewalks in front of homes, apartment buildings, and businesses in all five boroughs. More information can be found here.

We encourage everyone reading to visit the Center for Active Design website.  There are many ideas and resources for how to make your home and work space more active!


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