Taking The Stairs

“Any manual labor I’ve done was purely by mistake” – J. Buffett

You may have noticed the subtitle of this blog is “… and taking the stairs.”  And you may have said to yourself, “Huh?”  Pardon me for being oblique.

By way of explanation, I should tell you I’ve always been physically lazy.  I don’t like to sweat a lot … and as a native Floridian that presents challenges.  Sometimes I can get away with appearing “restful” and “at peace with a slower pace of life,” but it’s really just a big streak of lazy.

I’ve forced myself to do exercise in the past – back in 2002/03 I was running 12 or 15 miles a week, and I was pretty proud of that.  I did a little high school athletics, and I’ve spent enough time in gyms to be familiar with proper techniques and which machine does what.  But – and I don’t think I’m alone in this – I never liked much of it.  Don’t get me wrong, I always liked having done it, once I was iced and showered, but the actual doing?  That was never fun.

Also, exercise hurts.  I “ran through” shin splints until I learned exactly where and for how long to use ice after a run.  I put up with lower back pain from nearly every exercise I’ve ever attempted.  I limped through hip-pain and ankle pain and foot pain and knee pain.  And there was a certain camaraderie I enjoyed sharing with other exercisers (I won’t call us athletes) while we complained about exercise-specific discomforts.

Eventually my sedentary nature always combined with pain (and a genuine concern about every minute of my day being scheduled and sometimes double-scheduled) and helped phase exercise off my calendar.

Yet here I am facing the inconvenient reality that I won’t live as long as I want if I don’t find a way to build exercise into my day – every day.  Being ever-pragmatic, I ask myself, “How can I maximize exercise opportunities in my day-to-day without committing to contrived ‘exercise’ … yet?”

Lucky for me, I work on the second floor, and I make many trips a day to the first floor and back.  I’ve spent a lot of time in the elevator in the past, but no more.  I’m informed by this handy calculator that I can burn around fifty calories a day, five days a week by just taking the stairs every trip.

What about walking?  Can I build in more covert exercise by parking farther away from my destinations?  Why, yes, yes, I can.  Let’s say I add an extra 10 minutes of fairly brisk walking to my workday (and I can) by choosing parking spaces farther from my destination.  That’s 450 calories a week.

I’m told that a pound of fat equals about 3,500 calories, which means taking only the stairs every work day and building in some extra walking should help me drop an additional pound every five weeks.

That’s too good a deal to pass up.

At some point in the near future I’m going to have to make time for “contrived” exercise.  For now – for today – I’ll count this new commitment to “taking the stairs” as a victory.

I want to add here that NOT taking the stairs – the American suburban obsession with convenience – is almost certainly one of the reasons we’re trending toward obesity as a nation.  In places where the existing infrastructure makes it too costly or just plain impossible to install an elevator, you have to take the stairs.  So you’re used to taking the stairs and it’s never an issue.  Parking our cars in our driveways and garages creates the same conundrum – most of us don’t even half to walk down the block to start the car, and we don’t have to take more than twenty or thirty (level, air-conditioned) steps to bring the groceries into the house.  Don’t get me wrong, I like convenience.  But it’s packing the pounds into our collective national midsection.

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