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The Globe and Mail

New York Mayor Bloomberg really wants you to take the stairs (please?)

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg attends an event to give children motorcycle helmets at a school in Hanoi March 23, 2012.


While Toronto's mayor is busy pushing for cars and subways, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is telling citizens to stop being lazy and take the stairs.

"I'm not here to tell you how to live," Bloomberg said at a news conference earlier this week, while doing exactly that.

The outgoing mayor has long been a supporter of healthy living. During his time in office, Bloomberg has encouraged restaurants to post calorie counts for menu items, banned trans fats and tried unsuccessfully to ban large sodas. He's also encouraged New Yorkers to bike to work.

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He just wants New Yorkers to be healthy: Is that so bad?

It can't be argued that enticement is needed for people to take the stairs. Any time there is an escalator or elevator available, we often seek them out. Stairs aren't seen as "fun."

Remember this initiative where a group tried to change that perception?

Bloomberg, along with a new non-profit organization called the Center for Active Design, is proposing a change in design to make staircases a more prominent feature in new buildings, so people will be more likely to take them.

Obesity, which has strong links to a sedentary lifestyle, is a serious issue that's at an all-time high in Canada, with studies saying 25.3 per cent of Canadians are currently obese. In Ontario, the rate is higher than the national average at almost 29 per cent. Obesity has been linked to a myriad of issues, including high blood pressure, increased risk of heart attack, gallbladder disease, depression, chronic illnesses like strokes and diabetes and certain types of cancer.

In New York, more than half of adults are overweight or obese.

Bloomberg isn't just doing this for the health of his people – obesity costs the city an estimated $4-billion (U.S.) a year in health-care costs.

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If Bloomberg is acting like a concerned parent, then like any family, there are children wanting to rebel. Those rebellious ones want to be free to take the escalator at will, without being judged. They want the right to make their own bad decisions. They want to do things that will be harmful in the long run just because they can.

Bloomberg's simple response to that?

"Exercise is good for you."

We can't really argue with that.

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