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Technology helps you walk to health

My office is on the 11th floor in one of Boston’s premier healthcare institutions. As I take the elevator up or down, on several ocassions I notice people will have waited several minutes for the elevator when they just had to go 1 flight of stairs. Most of the individuals I have noticed are not physically disabled, or pushing a cart or anything else which would make it “necessary” to use an elevator. Most of these individuals are overweight. Why then do they “wait” to take an elevator while the stairs are quicker, and may even be good for their health?

Many a times, I take the stairs (even for 11 flights) and ocassionally see individuals there as well. These are usually “slimmer” and appear very fit. What made them take the stairs?

Are the people who take the stairs fit, because they take the stairs all the time, or: are 'fit' people more likely to maintain an active lifestyle which would include taking the stairs? Conversely, are the general habits of some folks such that it leads to less excercise and gaining weight – such as taking the elevator even for 1 flight of stairs?

What is the role of a healthcare institution in facilitating and encouraging a healthy lifestyle. Should there be some sort of a penalty for taking the elevator, or an incentive to take the stairs.

Swipe a card before you enter an elevator and it debits 10 cents. Swipe a card before you take the stairs and it credits 20 cents. Ofcourse, we may have to update the technology to deter fraud. RFIDs in your ID monitor that you are actually taking the stairs. Ditto – for the elevator. Transmitters in the elevators keep track of all people in it. You may not even need to swipe a card! The elevator door closes and your ID is inside the elevator, you are charged buster. Stairwell sensors could easily track progress in a stairwell, hand-off of adjacent sensors and credit your account on exit.

Investment in such technology is probably more useful to humanity than say sending a person to Mars! BTW, such technology already exists TODAY! Additionally, the savings in healthcare costs, from preventing numerous weight related diseases would more than pay for the technology.

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