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Take The Stairs And Shock The World


Amaze and dazzle your peers, use the stairs.

Once I walked up three flights of stairs in the library. I always take the stairs.

Each floor is separated by 28 steps. Those 28 steps are divided by a landing halfway up. Each step is approximately 8″ tall.

I took 84 steps and ascended 672 inches.

When I stepped off of the first step and walked to the desk to ask a question I was met with this astonished yelp:

“I can’t believe you aren’t out of breath!”The ability to move, vertically or otherwise, under my own power is not worth remaking on. This is not a feat of strength. It was not a calculated attempt to impress. But impress it did!

It impressed because it this miraculous power of being able-bodied is in increasingly short supply. Not a day goes by that I don’t have to wait for someone to catch their breath because they walked all the way over to my desk from their computer.

This is sad, and worse still when it’s a chubby 10 year old puffing and panting.

We all have possessions that we care for and maintain. Why not apply the same pride of ownership to our bodies? These bodies are the only things we are unequivocally stuck with. There is only one way to leave them. In the meantime, why not care for them?

I suspect that one day people will exclaim with wonder when someone can rise from a chair without getting out of breath.

Being exceptional should require more than simply being able to move, breathe, and move from one place to another without a becoming shade of scarlet blooming beneath the skin.

Taking care of ourselves does not have to be difficult. I understand that there are emotional hurdles in play when we talk about body issues, food attachments, etc.

But let’s talk about execution, which is very simple:  Being healthier–let’s just start with being healthier or stronger than we are right now–does not require a gym membership. It need not require heinous limitations on our food choices.

It simply requires one action to start with. Any will do, as long as it’s a step away from something that damages us in any small way.

For most of the people I spend my days with, I would simply urge one small thing to begin with: spend more time on the stairs than on the elevators. Even if it’s only 10 stairs a day to begin with.

Take the stairs. Today, find a way to be good to yourself.


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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jodi Kaplan July 7, 2011, 8:08 am

    Ha, I always take the stairs (not much of a choice when your apartment is 56 steps and four flights up from the ground).

  • Andrew Hamblin July 7, 2011, 10:07 am

    Thank you Josh.

    It’s worth remembering that taking the stair IS being good to myself.

  • Judy Donovan July 7, 2011, 11:23 am

    How right you are! I am constantly amazed that most college freshmen in my library would rather wait for a slow elevator than climb a flight of stairs. Whenever I get asked to help a student locate a book “upstairs” (which is kind of above and beyond what we reference librarians are supposed to do), I make them climb the 2 or 3 flights with me. They are always amazed that I am not out of breath.

    We’ve reached the era when we need to think about our “future selves”. Choices not made now will have difficulty and deadly consequences in our future. I was lucky to catch the fitness bug in my late 20’s and am now approaching 60 and can outrun, outlift and do more standard pushups than most 20 somethings. I’m glad I made the choices I did.

  • Dave Hallier July 7, 2011, 12:28 pm

    In 1996, I was at a seminar on the 23rd floor. The next class was on the 21st floor. As 30 people were waiting for an elevator, I decided to take the stairs. When the heavy, solid door thudded behind me, I knew I was locked in the stairwell. I pounded on the door, but no one would let me back in. Had to walk to the ground floor to catch the elevator to 21.
    Three years later, same scenario. When the heavy, solid door thudded closed, I thought to myself, “What a dumb@ss.”

  • Sarah July 7, 2011, 12:30 pm

    Wonderful timing! I just walked on the treadmill for an hour while reading at lunch for the first time in a while and it felt great!

  • cinderkeys July 8, 2011, 7:13 pm

    I almost never have stairs to take, and it’s too bad.

    At my last doctor’s appointment, with the elevator full and me impatient, I decided to walk the six flights. By the time I reached the top, I was huffing and puffing. So sad. I know I’d do better if I were still biking.

    I like what Elayne Boosler said about exercise. If you take the stairs up to your apartment, you’re all sweaty and tired when you reach the top … but you’re also THERE. Something that doesn’t happen if you drive to the gym (carefully finding the closest parking spot) and run on the treadmill.