Active Urbanism and choice architecture: Encouraging the use of challenging city routes for health and fitness

Paper by Anna Boldina, Paul H. P. Hanel & Koen Steemers: “Inactivity is one of the major health risks in technologically developed countries. This paper explores the potential of a series of urban landscape interventions to engage people in physical activity. Online surveys were conducted with 595 participants living in the UK by inviting them to choose between conventional pavement or challenging routes (steppingstones, balancing beams, and high steps) using photorealistic images. Across four experiments, we discovered that 80% of walkers claim they would pick a challenging route in at least one of the scenarios, depending on perceived level of difficulty and design characteristics. Where a challenging option was shorter than a conventional route, this increased the likelihood of being chosen by 10%, and the presence of handrails by 12%. This suggests that people can get nudged into physical activities through minor changes to the urban landscape. We discuss implications for policy makers and urban designers…(More)”.