Bright Spot: StairWELL

Photo by Lindsay Henwood on Unsplash

This bright spot was originally published in the 100 Million Healthier Lives Change Library and is brought to you through partnership with 100 Million Healthier Lives and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.


Detailed Description

This program is an example of Point-of-Decision Prompts to Encourage Use of Stairs (Physical Activity), which is recommended by the Guide to Community Preventive Services.

One of the reasons employees may not use the stairs as work is because they perceive them as unattractive and/or unsafe. Taking the stairs is one way to be more physically active. At work, employees are often presented with a choice between taking the stairs and taking an elevator or escalator. Choosing the stairs instead of the elevator is a quick way for people to add physical activity to their day. Using the stairs requires little additional time, no wardrobe change, and few additional costs because building code requires stairs.

Expected Outcomes

In the three years since inception, Healthier Worksite Initiative has worked on a number of demonstration projects, policies, and environmental changes that affect the entire workforce. The activities are guided by an advisory committee made up of representatives from many centers, institutes, offices, and locations. Direct observation, video cameras, and infrared sensors have all been used to track stair usage in past interventions and new technologies are being developed. Healthier Worksite Initiative has worked on improving the stairs and the cafeteria at headquarters and developing a walking trail at a worksite facility. For those outside of the company headquarters, Healthier Worksite Initiative conducted walkability audits at almost every campus, implemented a discount fitness center membership program for employees, and modified a policy that now makes suggestions for healthier foods at company-sponsored meetings and events.


Emerging bright spot (emerging evidence)

Cost Details

Costs associated with the program's implementation for supplies such as new paint, carpet, framed artwork and motivational signs were less than $16,000.

Key Steps for Implementation

The Program StairWELL To Better Health is designed to increase your daily physical activity. Developed with employees' input, the intervention included included painting and carpeting, framed artwork, motivational signs, and music. Infrared beams were used to track the number of stair users. The focus of a workforce health promotion (WHP) program can vary due to many factors, including type of organization, workforce diversity, resources, and leadership support. Program design provides an opportunity to plan a Workforce Health Promotion program and position it within the organization's overall mission. This increases the potential that program objectives will be realized, such as improving employee health and productivity and reducing medical care expenses for the employer and employee.


Partnerships may vary; potential partnerships include with schools (through their art classes), local painters/muralists, framing shops, etc.

Required Staffing (FTEs)

To properly prepare for your stairs to become a safe and inviting and place to be, you'll need some basic supplies and equipment for renovation: Paint to make your stairwells bright and colorful. Carpet easier on the feet than concrete, and more attractive too! Rubber Stairtreads necessary for extra safety when taking the stairs. Framed Artwork gives people something to look at while they are walking up and down. Motivational Signs both inside and outside the stairwell. Music also helps create interest and increase use. Stairwell Use Tracking System If you are interested in tracking how much more employees are taking the stairs. Budget Worksheet some general guidelines to developing a budget for your project.

Outcome Measures

Increase in daily physical activity in the workplace.


Website for Prompts to Encourage Physical Activity
Prompts to Encourage Physical Activity
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 Related Topics

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Physical Activity