Build­ing ac­tiv­ity into your place will mean a longer and health­ier life for ev­ery­one, writes Chelsea Clark

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - FOCUS -

Look hard enough any­where large groups of peo­ple gather and, one at a time, you’ll see them sur­rep­ti­tiously glanc­ing down at their wrists.

No, they’re not des­per­ately count­ing down the min­utes — they’re keep­ing track of their daily step count.

We’re fast be­com­ing a so­ci­ety ob­sessed with fit­ness, even as obe­sity rates rise.

Count­less stud­ies have shown sit­ting for long pe­ri­ods of time can be just as harm­ful to our health as smok­ing.

And it seems we’re fi­nally get­ting the mes­sage that be­ing ac­tive ev­ery day is the key to a healthy life.

The good news is be­ing ac­tive doesn’t have to mean train­ing for a marathon or hours spent at the gym.

The Heart Foun­da­tion and World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion say 10,000 steps a day is all it takes to im­prove health and re­duce our risk of heart dis­ease.

But while many large cor­po­ra­tions are redesign­ing their spa­ces to pro­mote more ac­tiv­ity around the of­fice to im­prove health out­comes for their staff, de­sign prin­ci­ples for the home re­main rel­a­tively un­changed.

For years homes have been de­signed with con­ve­nience top of mind — the open-plan lay­out is a per­fect ex­am­ple of a floor­plan that means you barely have to get up to move from the couch to the din­ing ta­ble.

While it’s a great con­cept in the­ory, when it comes to pro­mot­ing ac­tiv­ity through­out the day, this con­ve­nience might not be so help­ful to our health in the longer term.

“Homes are de­signed to re­duce the amount of move­ment as con­ve­nience tends to take prece­dence,” says builder Daniel Mazzei, di­rec­tor of Mazzei Homes.

“Cur­rent de­sign the­ory would sug­gest that if you had to walk a long way from your kitchen to your meals area, for ex­am­ple, then it would be con­sid­ered to be poorly de­signed workspace.

“But there have been a num­ber of cam­paigns over the past few years pro­mot­ing best prac­tice guide­lines for (ac­tiv­ity in) large ur­ban spa­ces and I think it’s likely we’ll see more over the com­ing years con­cern­ing in­di­vid­ual dwellings.”

Take the stairs

One of the eas­i­est ways you can pro­mote more ac­tiv­ity in your home through de­sign is with the in­stal­la­tion of stairs.

This multi-level gar­den de­signed by Se­cret Gar­dens of Syd­ney keeps peo­ple mov­ing.

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