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Low Physical Effort

Low physical effort is one of the principles of universal design, which makes goods and products accessible to many people. This article will outline some examples of low physical effort.

Low Physical Effort

Low physical effort means that people should be able to use products without being physically tired or strained, through “reasonable operating forces”. For example, many people find pots full of water too difficult to lift from the sink to the stove. A pot filler, or faucet installed over the stovetop, removes this burden. Instead of lifting a full pot, a person first places the empty pot on the stove, then fills it at the faucet.

Furthermore, people should not need to repeat the same movements too often. For instance, knobs on doors or drawers are difficult for many people to grasp and turn. In contrast, other methods of opening doors or drawers require less effort, such as:

  • Lever door handles
  • Doors with buttons people can reach from multiple heights
  • Automatic doors

Likewise, people should not need to use physical effort for too long. For instance, the repeated motion of using a vacuum cleaner is difficult or impossible for many people. Although they can take breaks, they will still need to pull the vacuum over all the carpet in their homes. However, people can use robot vacuums for some of this cleaning. While a robot vacuum may not clean in every corner, people using it will need to use the traditional vacuum less.

Finally, products and spaces should be designed for people to use them in neutral body positions. For instance, garden beds directly on the ground require gardeners to crouch, squat, or use other difficult or uncomfortable body positions. Moreover, gardeners need to take these positions repeatedly or for a long time. On the other hand, raised garden beds allow gardeners to reach them without bending down as far.