In Search of Solitude? Try the Stairs

by DavalosMcCormack on April 29, 2008

If you ever feel the need to be alone, to find a place where you are not surrounded by others, there’s an easy way to do that; just find the nearest staircase. I can guarantee you, you’ll have it all to yourself!

If you want proof just go to the staircase in the office where you work, or at a train station or a shopping mall. See anyone else there? No. People just don’t use the stairs anymore. They would rather wait five minutes for an elevator to take them down two floors than use the stairs. And when it comes to walking up the stairs, forget about it. That’s just crazy talk.

I used to belong to a gym where the exercise area was one floor below the entrance to the facility. I would see people spend half an hour on a stairmaster, “climbing” hundreds of steps, working up a sweat, all in the name of trying to stay healthy. But when it came time to leave the gym they wouldn’t walk up the two flights of stairs to the exit, instead they’d take the elevator. The same was true for a big fitness convention I once went to at the Moscone Center. The building was filled with studly, heavily muscled men and women, all promoting and demonstrating the latest in exercise clothing and equipment. But when it came time to leave the convention all these perfectly sculpted folks took to the escalator. No one was on the staircase.

And it’s not just Americans who do this. I just got back from a trip to Italy and the story was the same there. At train stations, there were teeming hoardes of people pushing and shoving to get to the escalator, dragging shopping, luggage or small children behind them. Even though there was a staircase right next to the elevator, it was almost always empty. People would rather wait and stand cheek by jowl with other people on the escalator than take a few steps on their own.

So why is it that so many people are unwilling to use the stairs? Have we decided that millennium after our ancestors migrated out of Olduvai gorge in Africa to spread out across the world that we’ve done about as much walking as we need to and now it’s time to ease up?

Taking the stairs is the simplest, easiest form of exercise known to man, or woman. It’s good for cardiovascular health. It’s good for your blood pressure. It’s good for building up stamina and endurance. It’s great for toning up legs and thighs and bottoms. And it’s free. You don’t need to join a gym to do it, it’s right there in front of you.

So why don’t we do it. I think it’s habit. It’s human nature. If we can find a way to do something that involves less effort we’ll take that route. If we have a choice of standing or sitting, even if we’ve been sitting down all day, we’ll sit. For instance, one of the legs of my return trip back to the U.S. from Italy involved a ten hour flight. The waiting area for the flight was packed, with every seat filled. Even though people were going to be spending the next ten hours stuck in a seat, they were not willing to spend a few minutes before the flight standing up.

Is it any wonder obesity is on the rise. Health experts keep telling us we need to take a stand against obesity. But let’s face it, we’d all much rather just take a seat.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: