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NIH Record

NIH'ers Urged to Take the Stairs

On the Front Page...

Do you only use the stairs during a fire drill? Do you take the elevator for one floor and then feel people's glares as you get out? Do you think you should exercise but believe your day is too busy? Then read on.


There are some new signs around the NIH campus and in most off-campus buildings encouraging employees to take the stairs. The campaign, organized by the worksite health promotion action committee (WHPAC) with the support of the Division of Space and Facilities Management, is intended to remind employees that taking the stairs is a fast, easy way to improve your physical and mental health. More and more research is showing us that daily physical activity is important in the prevention and control of a number of chronic diseases. No matter how busy your day, you can always find ways to add small periods of physical activity.

The folks behind the Take the Stairs campaign include (from l) Susanne Strickland, Office of Disease Prevention; Ev Sinnett, Center for Scientific Review; Randy Redmond, NICHD; and Chris Gaines of ORS.

These exercise periods add up. When incorporated with walking down corridors, between buildings, and similar activities, stair climbing can help employees reach the goal of 30 minutes daily of moderate-intensity physical activity recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine. Employees are cautioned to start out slowly and climb as many flights as is comfortable, particularly if they aren't in the habit of exercising or haven't routinely climbed stairs. They should gradually add another flight until they can go the distance.

"By following this simple plan, the employees on the eighth floor could take some positive steps (pun intended) to becoming much healthier than employees on the second floor," quipped Ev Sinnett, a scientific review administrator who suggested the campaign. "Climbing down also provides physical activity and is something nearly everyone can manage. To start, you might try climbing up three flights in the morning (just get off the elevator at 5) and down all eight flights when you leave at the end of the day. If you feel deprived because you work on the second floor, you could always substitute a climb to the eighth floor for a trip to the cafeteria for a snack. You'll soon find this gives you more energy and concentration than a cheese danish does. Just remember to climb back down to your office!"

To emphasize the benefits of taking the stairs such as weight control, heart health, stronger bones, and stress management, WHPAC developed slogans such as, "Why WEIGHT for an elevator? Take the stairs and burn some calories," "Take steps for a healthier heart," "Bone up to good health...Use the stairs," or "Feeling stressed? Burn some steam--Take the stairs."

To keep it light, the committee chose cartoon characters to convey the message. "Even though our message is an important one, we're not taking ourselves too seriously" states Randy Redmond, chairperson of the exercise subcommittee of WHPAC. "We're just pointing out that climbing stairs is an easy-to-adopt way to improve health and well-being."

For other simple ideas for improving health, stop by the Health Fair on June 16-17, or visit WHPAC's soon-to-be launched Web site.

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