Background Activity, Active Design and New York

I’ve talked before about increasing a persons “Background Activity” (click here, and here) to help improve their health and weight.  And it looks like New York city has the same idea! Click here for a BBC documentary about how architects in New York are trying to make it harder for people to get about in order to give people more exercise.

BBC Radio 4 – The Revenge of the Stairs

“New York City’s bosses have declared stair-climbing as key to their citizens’ survival. In fact, they’ve sent ‘Active Design Guidelines’ to architects and city planners, pushing them to build more exercise into their grand plans. The logic is obvious but radical.

New York City’s early skyscrapers did so much to relegate steps and elevate the elevator. The rationale of our built environment has always been convenience. Yet, the health and design chiefs of NYC want more walking and cycling alongside renewed mastery of the stairs – they want getting around to take more effort, to be harder. The city bosses come equipped with a persuasive historical parallel. In the 19th century, the big city killer was infectious disease like cholera and TB and we ‘designed out’ the danger through better buildings and clean water systems. The threats now are obesity, diabetes and heart trouble resulting, at least partly, from our slobby lifestyles.

Can we take a lead from New York and re-design our own cities to improve the health of everyone who lives and works there?”

It is a lovely idea using a very basic principle of evolution…

“an organism adapting to its environment”

…if we live in an environment that promotes inactivity, we become inactive and ill.  If we live in an environment that promotes activity, we become active and healthy. But if you can’t afford to build a city for yourself (for some reason!), you can do a cheaper alternative…Get a good training partner when training.  If you are with/surrounded by active people, you are more likely to be active yourself.

“Get yourself in the right environment and make it physically harder, and mentally easier on yourself”.