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When confronted with the option to ride the elevator or muster up enough energy to walk up multiple flights of steps to a destination, most of us opt for the elevator. But according to the Bloomberg Administration, we might choose differently when surrounded by a built environment that encourages physical activity. In response to our country’s mounting obesity crisis, Mayor Bloomberg has recently changed design standards, launching a new series of pro-health and anti-obesity initiatives that promote physical activity in buildings and public spaces.
The plan comprises of three main elements. The first is the creation of The Center for Active Design, a non-profit organization that fights obesity and chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers, by implementing active design strategies in the construction of buildings, streets, and neighborhoods. This was accompanied by an Executive Order that Mayor Bloomberg signed on June 27th obliging all city agencies to incorporate smart design strategies that promote physical activity in new construction and renovation projects. Finally, Bloomberg has proposed two acts of legislation to the City Council that promote access to stairways in all major construction projects by hanging signs on walls and near elevators that recommend taking the stairs.
These efforts are the latest in the Mayor’s campaign to urge New Yorkers to live a healthier lifestyle. Past initiatives include his ban on cigarette smoking in bars, restaurants, and outdoor public spaces, prohibiting restaurants to use trans fats, and forcing food chains to include calorie counts on their menus. The Bloomberg Administration firmly believes that by making stairways more visibly accessible people will feel more inclined to use them, by beautifying our streetscapes more people will be encouraged to walk or ride a bicycle to work, and by creating public spaces conducive to physical activity people will feel inspired to get outdoors, exercise, and live a healthier lifestyle.