Last night I came home and greeted a neighbor on the entry level floor next to our mailboxes. He pushed the elevator button while I headed for the staircase. Four flights later, I saw him again, this time outside the doors of the elevator that had just let him off on the fourth floor. As I passed by and smiled at him again, he called out to me, “Did you just walk up the stairs?”
I admitted that yes, I had. He then asked, “Do you do that all the time?” I acknowledged that I did.
And then he asked the kicker question: “But why?”
I made a commitment to myself. When I moved into the building, I told myself I was going to take the stairs unless I had a really good reason not to. Being tired or just not feel like it are not good reasons. Having heavy groceries or visitors who politely decline my offer of hoofing it up to the apartment are good reasons.
Here’s the thing: Dr. Dad always insisted we park in the farthest away parking spot anywhere we went; this was partly due to the fact that those spots tended to be shady (thus keeping the car cooler and the dashboard less likely to fade and crack under sunlight), and partly due to the fact that it meant more calories burned walking to our destination. While I’m prone to finding both shady and far away parking spots due to my upbringing, I do not seek them out with the vigor that he does. Consider it a final piece of lingering rebellion.
But I still like buring calories. And if I’m not getting them burned in parking lots, at least I can get them burned on the staircase. It’s always better to do something than do nothing, and if my day is busy or I miss a workout, at least I can walk up the stairs and think “well, better than nothing.”
There’s likely a twinge of self-rightousness involved with my stair-climbing follies. Perhaps even a bit of smugness (oh, how I hate to admit that to myself, let alone on the internet) knowing I’m using my leg muscles and I’m trying even though no one but myself is making me do so. And there’s also a bit of wishing I could convince other people to do the same, that maybe someone who doesn’t take the stairs will start and be happier and healthier because of it.
Of course, explaining all this to a neighbor would be boring, so I just replied, “I do it for me.”