Designers are often asked to design spaces that support workplace wellness. New research indicates that efforts to encourage wellness pay off. Goetzel and his team learned that “Stock performance of C. Everett Koop National Health Award winners . . . was measured over time and compared with the average performance of companies comprising the Standard and Poor's (S&P) 500 Index. The Koop Award portfolio outperformed the S&P 500 Index.
There are clear benefits to getting previously sedentary employees up and walking at lunchtime. Thogersen-Ntoumani and colleagues completed a study during which “Physically inactive employees [getting less than the recommended amount of exercise per week, average age 48, 93% of the 56 subjects were female] from a large university in the UK. . . . partook in three weekly 30-min lunchtime group-led walks for 10 weeks. . . .
There are clear benefits to enhanced building ventilation. MacNaughton and colleagues report that they “estimated the energy consumption and associated per building occupant costs for office buildings in seven U.S. cities, representing different climate zones for three ventilation scenarios (standard practice (20 cfm/person), 30% enhanced ventilation, and 40 cfm/person) and four different heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system strategies (Variable Air Volume (VAV) with reheat and a Fan Coil Unit (FCU), both with and without an energy recovery ventilator). . .
Two important resources to review
Shrestha and colleagues reviewed the research on the implications of standing or being active while doing knowledge work. They determined that “A sit-stand desk alone compared to no intervention [not having a sit-stand desk] reduced sitting time at work. . . . considerably less than the two to four hours recommended by experts. Sit-stand desks did not have a considerable effect on work performance, musculoskeletal symptoms or sick leave. . . .The effects of active [walking or pedaling] workstations were inconsistent.”
The influence of hearing music on cognitive performance has been extensively researched and discussed in multiple previous Research Design Connections articles. Chew and her colleagues recently collected data from students with a mean age of 22, who were asked “to complete arithmetic, reading comprehension, and word memory tasks while exposed to familiar or unfamiliar, foreign or first language music, and no music. . . . only the word memory task was affected by music with significantly higher scores in the familiar than unfamiliar music conditions.”
New research confirms the value of encouraging stairway use via design by, for example, incorporating exterior windows and art into these spaces. Steffener and his team learned that the number of flights of stairs climbed by a person every day is related to how young their brain seems to be physically when it is examined via an MRI. The more stairs climbed, the younger the brain’s apparent age. As the researchers report, “physiologic measure of brain age (BA). . . . decreased by . . .
Researchers from the Center for Innovation at the Mayo Clinic studied the design of patient exam rooms. A recent press release reviews their work: “new ideas were iterated and tested in the outpatient laboratory, a unique clinical space where real patients see real physicians. . . . Jack and Jill rooms were born from the observation that only a small part of a clinical visit involves a physical exam; yet the [exam] rooms are dominated by the tools needed for that activity.
Stress increases greenspace use and drives psychological outcomes
Psychological challenges, such as autism, ADHD, depression, and schizophrenia complicate the live