Choose the stairs

Our offices are on the 3rd floor of a small building in downtown West Palm Beach, FL. With the backdrop of the Intracoastal waterway and million dollar yachts, our small but growing city is an enviable place to work. Especially in the Winter when our friends up north are ducking blizzards and ice storms.

Since my office is on the 3rd floor, I primarily use the stairs to go up and down. I find this choice to be the exception among most of the people in the building. The elevator is by far the most popular option. I rarely see people in the stairwell.

So why choose the stairs? For starters the health benefits of climbing stairs is obvious. The majority of our time in the office is spent sitting in front of a computer. My Apple Watch reminds me to get up once per hour and stretch my legs. So will walk down the stairs, walk around the block and then take the stairs back up. It’s a good way to clear my head.

If you have a knee injury or some other physical ailment that precludes you from climbing stairs then you have fewer choices. Elevators and escalators are a God send for those with handicaps or when you have a number of flights to climb. But when you only have to go 2 or 3 floors up, I find it fascinating how many people will still use the elevator.

Choosing stairs over an elevator is like facing the resistance and deciding to not let it win.

Making the decision to choose the stairs is the harder choice, the one that takes more effort. Let’s say you are staring at a blank screen knowing that you need to pull together a sales deck for a big meeting tomorrow. It’s easier to check Facebook, Twitter or Huffington Post to see what’s trending. But pushing through the resistance and knocking out the presentation is what must be done. Choose the stairs, take a walk, do 10 push-ups. These activities will do a better job of stimulating your creativity.

At airports, I am amazed how few people use the stairs and instead will hop on a crowded escalator. At Hartsfield in Atlanta there is one particular set of stairs that goes from the shuttle up to main terminal. It’s about a four story climb. I try to take those stairs because when you are sitting in airplanes all day, it’s a good way to get in a small workout. I am usually the only person using those stairs while literally hundreds of people crowd onto the escalator.

A hundred years ago, our ancestors didn’t have this choice. If you wanted to get a four post bed up to the fifth floor you grabbed a friend or two and carried it with brute force. In 2013, I was staying at a small hotel in Munich that had no elevator. In the States, I prefer “high floors” at hotels to reduce the street noise and improve the view. I was staying on the 4th floor and I remember hiking up the stairs with my bags thinking “this is what they did back in the day”. Through the night, I heard late arrivals climb the stairs up to the 5th, 6th and 7th floor. The amount of energy expended to get to the room is proportional to the quality of the room because the higher floors had primo views of Munich and less street noise.

Choosing the stairs has it’s benefits.