Bloomberg's latest health push: Getting New Yorkers to take the stairs

The new Center for Active Design is the centerpiece of a plan to help New Yorkers become more active and fight obesity.

The High Line

The High Line

First it was the smoking ban; then it was posting calorie counts at restaurants; then it was the unsuccessful attempt to ban the sale of excessively large sugary drinks. And now, with just months left to go in his final term, Mayor Bloomberg has proposed another way to try and get New Yorkers to be ever-so-slightly healthier.

Bloomie announced that the city is amping up its efforts to promote physical activity by implementing initiatives focused on "active design"; the city has also established the Center for Active Design, a nonprofit dedicated to the cause. The idea is to encourage architects and city planners to incorporate those ideas—things like safer forms of active transportation, parks designed for active use, and easier-to-navigate stairs and sidewalks—into new structures and spaces. (The High Line, pictured above, is one example of active-design principles in action.)

What does this mean for you? Not much! Unlike the smoking ban (now a decade old) or the controversial—and unrealized—soda ban, the new campaign is less a directive than it is a gentle nudge for both citizens and planners to consider healthier choices. "The active-design movement asks design professionals to be part of the solution and find new ways to encourage movement, both in buildings and on the streets," said Department of Design and Construction commissioner David Burney.

Bloomberg even discussed his own efforts to be more physically active, saying, "I have five floors in my house; I take the stairs." While we're guessing most people who live here don't have that luxury, the mayor makes a good point: A recent study found that daily activities like climbing stairs can be—over time—as beneficial to your health as going to the gym.

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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)

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