Skip to main content
Stairwell Challenge team

Push Yourself Not the Button

Last winter quarter, eight nursing students(3 MECN and 5 BS) beautified the stairwells in the Factor Building to encourage staff and faculty and their fellow students to take the stairs instead of the elevator.

“We cleaned up the stairwells and added visuals on the inside of the doors and next to the elevators, from the A level to the sixth floor, with motivational and colorful signage,” said Lukas Smith, a second-year MECN student and one of the student researchers.

The project was initiated in response to a 2017 report from the American Nurses Association that nurses and nursing students have a higher than average body mass index, and less than half spend the recommended time exercising.

“We do feel like nurses tend to neglect themselves and sitting in class for long hours doesn’t help,” said Mitchell Stern, a second-year MECN student and one of the researchers.

Chyna Porrata, a fourth-year BS student said, “It could be a problem on days when we have eight hours straight of classes with only a one-hour lunch break in the middle. Taking the stairs helps us move.”

Funding for the project came from UCLA’s Healthy Campus Initiative Student Grants and the research fund of Dr. Barbara Bates-Jensen, the faculty mentor for the project. Each student also received a scholarship.

As part of the grant, the students designed a research project to measure the impact of revamping the stairwell on increasing usage. They set up people counter devices by the stairwells on each floor to track usage before and after they refashioned the stairwell. They standardized these data to take into account the number of people expected to be in the building each day based on class enrollment, and staff and faculty appointment.

The students sent anonymous surveys to collect data on the demographics and behaviors of respondents. The survey included questions on whether the respondent noticed the stairwells had been revamped, and whether the motivational quotes affect the respondent’s usage of the stairwell.

Based on survey results, the researchers found that people over 50 self-reported the highest increase in stair usage after the beautification project. Furthermore, students in post-licensure programs reported more frequent use of the stairwells than pre-licensure students. No difference in stairwell usage between gender and ethnicity groups was observed. Quantitative data collected by people counter devices found Wednesday to be the highest day of usage.

In addition to the research, students also created a social media campaign to encourage students to take the stairs. Their Instagram page, @stairwellchallenge, prompted students to climb the stairs; that’s about 364 steps – bottom to top!

The students presented results at two Sigma Theta Tau conferences.

The Stairwell Challenge team:  Lukas Smith, Mitchell Stern, Diana O’Toole, Robin Mertens, Hailey Leach, Dahriel Aron, Jay Lee and Constance Coelho.  Faculty mentor: Dr. Barbara Bates-Jensen