It may seem completely innocuous, but I don’t think it is. First of all, this can quickly become ableist – there are people who can’t climb the stairs and if we make stair climbing “good” and elevator riding “bad” we can end up stigmatizing people living with disabilities. This can be magnified for those whose disabilities are invisible or not immediately apparent. It can be extra horrible for fat people, especially those with invisible disabilities, since there is added social stigma heaped on fat people who are seen as being “lazy” in public.
Everybody has the right to choose how highly they prioritize their health and the path they take to get there. Though there are a number of studies that show that physical activity is one of the things that people might choose to help improve the odds of health (though health is never guaranteed and not entirely within our control), there are no studies that say that the movement has to be, or even should be, stairs.
Stairs can actually be a pretty difficult way to get movement in – they can be hard on the knees, hard on the back, hard on the hips, and you can fall down them so there are plenty of people who are interested in doing movement who would be well within reason and common sense to choose some other kind of movement.
I am certain that people should have free access to true information about things that can affect their health. I am certain that providing a wide variety of movement options that are safe (both physically and psychologically safe) is a positive thing.
After that I think it becomes, at best, a grey area and I believe that “encouraging” movement – in particular a specific kind of movement, or movement that can be observed and judged by others – can end up doing more harm than good, especially among populations who have been shamed for not doing movement, or not being good at movement, in the past. This is exactly why “take the stairs” has no business being an executive order.
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