The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario wants people to use stairs more often, and so is sponsoring a design contest for better stairs -- as well as getting publicity for itself. Oliver Moore of the Globe&Mail writes,
At one time, grand staircases were a focal point of design, ushering people from the ground floor in lofty style. In many current structures, though, stairwells are designed as fire escapes rather than as places for regular use. They’re more likely to be unpleasant rather than striking, and rarely feel inviting.
It's one thing to make the stairwell more inviting; it's another to make the horse drink. Mr Moore provides examples of inviting staircases, such as this one:
At the Reichstag in Berlin, the elevator goes only to the base of Norman Foster’s glass dome. From there, visitors walk up ramps that wind dramatically around the interior of the 1999 addition.
Well, only some visitors. You get a good enough view of Berlin from the roof of the Reichstag without needing to take the long ramp. The paragraph above would be better with the word "some" added: "From there, some visitors walk up ramps..."
The real reason for the ramp is not to provide exercise to heart and stroke victims, but because a elevator would not have worked to get people to the tippy-tip of the glass dome.
In other cases, I think that escalators are the answer: you can ride them passively like an elevator, or walk up them like stairs.