Today is National Walk to Work Day and we hope you celebrated through even a brief walk outside. It has been almost 70 years since the first study demonstrated the correlation between daily activity and heart disease. This first study revealed that London conductors who walked up and down bus aisles were far less likely to die from heart disease than the more sedentary drivers of those same buses. Since this study, many different benchmarks have been set for the number of steps we should strive to hit each day.
Steps, specifically distances and patterns of use, play a large role in our design process. For some users of our spaces, like our nurses, we make every attempt to create efficiencies throughout the hospital corridors reducing the daily physical strain of their work. For most others though, we use design to nudge and prod users to move a bit more through incentives.
Incentives in design are generally more subconscious than what we traditional consider as a reward. It might be a splash of daylight, an exceedingly enjoyable experience, or as it is most of the time, efficiency. By providing a more scenic or direct route that is intuitive, we can frequently encourage visitors to take the path requiring a few extra steps or physical effort.
In our collaboration with HKS, we worked to create a design that would encourage our “bus drivers” to move more, while easing the physical toll on “our conductors.” For Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, our bus drivers were the general public of which over 80% have sedentary jobs, and our conductors were the hospital staff, specifically nurses and care-givers who walk the corridors linking patient rooms many times a day.
The new lobby features a central prominent stair taking you directly to a variety of clinical and time-between options. By making stairs a convenient focal feature, we can encourage movement nudging visitors and staff to take the extra effort and use the stairs. Additionally, the patient guide and way-finding integrate walking distances helping visitors plan their visit and utilize indoor and outdoor walking paths.