Libraries going through recent construction or renovation are focusing more on design elements to help patrons’ well-being. This is achieved by creating features that encourage movement such as workstations that alternate between sitting and standing positions. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans spend almost ninety percent of their lives indoors which is why it is critical to build healthy indoor environments. This can be as simple as adding more natural light and design spaces to connect us to the outdoors.
Sitting for hours at a time can be hard on visitors’ bodies but standing all the time isn’t the answer either. Research supports the need for an active learning or working environments. By changing a person’s posture and helping them move throughout the day supports better wellness. In fact, a few minutes of activity at a time can be beneficial by increasing focus or improving mood, according to the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.
Here are some ways to encourage staff and patrons to be more active:
- Awareness — Adding signage in key locations can help remind guests to move around more. Libraries can also provide posters or pamphlets that highlight America’s current state of health with tips to fight against chronic conditions, like heart disease and diabetes, which account for almost two-thirds of all United State’s deaths according to the American Diabetes Association. By making a short walking route through the library and creating a challenge to complete every visit, patrons may be more motivated to take a much-needed wellness break. With the wearable health sensor boom, some libraries are even loaning pedometers to patrons so they can keep track of their steps while searching for materials. Pedometers can keep guests more aware of their fitness and may even help them be more active during their visit. Another idea is for libraries to provide patrons with electronic devices that send pop-up messages after every hour to remind patrons that a few minutes of stretching or activity could help improve their health and productivity.
- Attractive Stairs — Libraries that have multiple stories already have an easy way for people without mobility limitations to get needed activity. Taking the stairs rather than an elevator or escalator should be the default for patrons to use to gain more movement throughout their day. However, stairs need to be attractive to draw guests into using them. Stairs that feature daylight to brighten the area or highlight fun accents are likely to be used more often. Examples would be creating art on each step with different popular book titles or putting together an interactive display of authors that live in the state.
- Fitness Programs — Libraries across the United State and Canada are implementing and sustaining movement based programming for all ages. This includes fitness programs such as yoga, tai chi, Pilates and Zumba for adults including less strenuous sessions for seniors as well as story walks, dance parties and nerf wars for children. For more ideas on how to get your patrons moving, Let’s Move in Libraries shares stories and experiences of how libraries across the United States are encouraging movement. There is also an interactive map of Canada and the United States that highlights movement-focused programs and services that can help you determine what other libraries in your area are sponsoring.
Movement is an important part of keeping patrons healthy which has become a main focus for public libraries. By creating an atmosphere that promotes well-being and motivates users to move their bodies, libraries are making a positive contribution to their communities welfare.