Step it Up!

by Katy on September 22, 2009 · 17 comments


I used to live in New York city in a third floor walkup. Frankly, it was kind of a pain in the tuchus. Lugging groceries up those stairs sometime meant the difference between buying applesauce, (Which I really like, but  is tragically heavy) or not. I always had to think about the weight of my food purchases.

But you know what? I lost so much weight that I got asked to model. Sure, it was skanky strangers on the street who claimed to be modeling agents, but I digress.

Fast forward a couple of decades and no one asks me about modeling, skanky or otherwise. The pounds have crept on and applesauce fits quite nicely into my Honda mini-van.

My friend Marie Javins posted a recent NY Magazine article about the benefits of taking the stairs vs. the elevator on her Facebook page.

This quote caught my attention:

“Stair-climbing is a more efficient form of exercise than walking: Two additional minutes of stair-climbing per day (approximately three floors) can burn more than enough calories to eliminate the average adult’s annual weight gain.”

Sure, we all know climbing stairs is healthier than standing still in an upwardly mobile box, but its so much easier to just take the easy route when tired, loaded down or  just feeling sluggish.

I work on the third floor of my hospital, and try to avoid the elevator, but sometimes my asthma is acting up or my back is hurting. Really, any excuse to join my co-workers in the elevator is accepted without question.

Having just finished Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process, elevator use is fresh in my mind. I actually took the stairs down from work today, not as exercise, but to save electricity.

Good for your body and saves electricity? What a fabulous combination! And maybe, just maybe, my asthma and sore back would lessen if I were to drop a pound or two.  It is however too late at age 41 to start that modeling career. I guess I’ll just have to stick with being a registered nurse and blogger.

Do you choose the stairs over the elevator? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Angela September 22, 2009 at 10:24 pm

This is so funny- I always take the stairs over the elevator or escalator but never thought of saving electricity, only a bit of exercise. I usually get funny looks.

When I lived in Manhattan for two years I walked so much I actually had trouble keeping weight ON- I was scarily skinny, skinnier than my high school skinny. And yes, I regularly climbed several flights of stairs, both at home and at work.

I can’t wait to see No Impact Man!


Jessie September 23, 2009 at 4:54 am

I climb 3 flights of stairs every day to my office. I do it mostly for the exercise, but I have thought about the electricity savings. Seems like an elevator is a huge thing to lug 25 feet just to carry little ol’ me!


Little Miss Moneybags September 23, 2009 at 6:17 am

I can’t climb stairs at work–we only have emergency stairs with alarms. I try to take the stairs at home (fifth floor!) but if I’m carrying something I will totally take the elevator. I used to live on a third floor walkup (and a fourth floor as well!) and I LOVE living in a building with an elevator simply for the ease of doing laundry now.


valerie heck September 23, 2009 at 7:24 am

I actually lived on the 18th floor of a building. When I worked out at the gym (5th floor) I would then finish it up by walking up the stairs to my apartment. It was a great workout! I did have to take at least one break, to breathe!


Kat September 23, 2009 at 8:41 am

Almost everyone in the music school takes the stairs instead of the elevator. It’s brand new but takes forever to get to whatever floor you’re waiting at. By the time it gets there most people are able to climb from the basement to the 3rd floor (due to the high ceilings for rehearsal halls this equates to 4-5 stories). Unless they have to carry a large instrument or equipment it’s usually not worth the wait.


Carla September 23, 2009 at 10:26 am

Sigh, when I am in better shape than I am right now, I am glad to take the stairs. (Does that tell you something about my current exercise regimen?)


Dawn September 23, 2009 at 11:49 am

I always take the stairs. It started when I was little and was going with my uncle to visit a relative in the hospital. He was terribly claustrophobic and would not take the elevator so we did the stairs together. It is a habit I still do. And yes, when I work at the hospital my co-workers think I am crazy for taking the 3 flight of stairs, but I am at least 15 years older than them and in much better shape (an added bonus).


Judy September 23, 2009 at 3:48 pm

When I worked with the cardiology service on 7th floor at UNMH my motivation for taking the stairs was a desire to never be a cards patient, can’t say I ever considered the electrical energy savings. But yes, I got really firmed up, lost weight, and had great stamina, as I went up and down those stairs several times a day.
Now, alas, I only have a couple of stairs in my house and a cranky knee.


Sierra September 23, 2009 at 5:56 pm

I’ve always been a stair user. It’s not even an exercise thing, per se, I just prefer them. Now I live on the 2nd and 3rd floors of a two-family home, and my life is all about stairs. I probably carried my kids up and down more than a dozen flights today.


Greta September 23, 2009 at 6:08 pm

I always take the stairs. Frankly, it saves me time. I hate waiting for elevators.


Judith in Ky September 23, 2009 at 8:09 pm

I am old,old,old,….but I do have a stairmaster in my living room. Other than that I would sit at this computer all day!


Christine September 23, 2009 at 8:37 pm

I can relate– I used to live in a fourth floor walk-up in Bklyn. That combined with the insane amount of walking you do in daily life in the city also made me veeery thin. Alas, no matter how much biking I do around PDX, I don’t think I’ll ever be that thin again!


Tracy Balazy September 24, 2009 at 7:19 am

I work on the fifth floor of the Detroit Free Press/Detroit News building, and I make sure I take the stairs up and down at least once a day. They’re 12 flights of varying lengths and make for a good workout!


WilliamB September 24, 2009 at 7:59 am

It frustrates me how many commercial buildings lock their stairwells. I can’t take the stairs if they’re locked. At least they could install one-way locks so you could walk down and out without setting off the fire alarm.

I used to work for at HQ for a construction company. The official line was “One up, two down,” shorthand for “please consider walking one flight up and two flights down.” Seemed like a good rule of thumb to me.

BTY, habit can be your friend here. Habitual actions are darn hard to break. This is true for good habits (flossing) as well as bad (smoking). So if you develop the habit of walking 2 flights or less, you’ll probably find it hard to *not* do that.


thenonconsumeradvocate September 24, 2009 at 9:05 am

It just occurred to me that although I can take the stairs at work, it is because I am an employee. Visitors to the hospital do not have that option.

The unit where I work is locked down for infant security, and I have to swipe my employee I.D. to get the stairway doors to open. This is a good thing. Security is our friend in a hospital setting.

I suppose other non-lockdown floors would be different, but I have NEVER run across anyone who is not an employee on the stairs.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Tony Wolk September 24, 2009 at 2:42 pm

I walk the stairs, which sounds like a line from a song. Even after my bicycle ride to Portland State University (same weighs-a-ton bike I bought back in 1969), 4 floors up. All day long, up and down. I could get stuck on an elevator, but not the stairs. Every bit counts.


Jupe Blue September 24, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Since I’m often the one installing the electrical system for the elevator it’s the stairs for me. By the time the elevator is up and running I’m off to the next job. My main mode of exercise is climbing to the top of a 8-10 foot ladder about a million times a day. Not much of a cardio workout, but it keeps the weight off.


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