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Photo by: Courtesy Israel Forum for a Healthy Lifestyle
Take the stairs at busy Tel Aviv site
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
11/13/2012
Israel Forum for a Healthy Lifestyle uses paintings at staircases in Azrieli center to encourage people to use stairs.
 
Most people, given the choice of taking the stairs or using the elevator, would choose the latter – a good explanation for why over half of Israelis are overweight or obese. The Israel Forum for a Healthy Lifestyle has decided to do something about it.

Adapting a German idea, in which stairs were reconstructed to look like piano keys that actually sounded out notes when stepped on, the forum instead had threedimensional- like color paintings placed at the foot of staircases between the railway station and the Azrieli shopping center in Tel Aviv.

The paintings look as if children are climbing out of a wadi or flying dinosaurs are walking about a canyon.

They will be on view from Tuesday.

The forum placed hidden cameras near the staircases to document how many people used them before they were ornamented with the 3D-like paintings, and continue doing so during the two weeks they are in place to compare the two figures.

The experiment in Germany found that before the stairs there became a playing piano, over 60 percent of pedestrians used the escalator.

But after the stairs played a tune with users’ feet, use of the stairs increased significantly.

It is expected that the scenes between the railroad station and the tower will attract many tens of thousands of pedestrians to go up and down the staircases.

They will remain at the site for two weeks, as they involve a complicated construction that cannot remain permanently there, the forum explained.

The project is the first of its kind in Israel to be launched by the forum, with cooperation from the Azrieli center and the Clal health insurance company. The idea is based on “fun theory,” in which it is believed that people will make an extra effort to be active for something that looks enjoyable.

At the end of the two weeks, the annual race up the stair in one of the three Azrieli towers will be held to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Forum chairman Nir Laor said Monday that he hoped the paintings and the race will increase awareness among the public to undertake physical activity on a daily basis. Too many park close to their destination or use the elevator so they don’t have to walk, he said, even though taking 10,000 steps a day have been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases by 40%.
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