Evaluation and modification of exercise patterns in the natural environment

Am J Psychiatry. 1980 Dec;137(12):1540-5. doi: 10.1176/ajp.137.12.1540.


Using a new experimental paradigm to evaluate physical activity in the natural environment, the authors made of 45,694 observations of persons using stairs or an adjacent escalator at a shopping mall, train station, and bus terminal. In study 1, stair use more than doubled for both obese and nonobese persons during two-week periods when a colorful sign encouraging use of the stairs was positioned at the stairs/escalator choice point. In study 2, stair use remained elevated for 15 consecutive days while the sign was present, decreased during a 1-month follow-up period, and returned to baseline by 3 months. These results not only demonstrate the usefulness of this paradigm, but also suggest the strength of simple, inexpensive public health interventions to increase physical activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Choice Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Social Environment