I Tried… Taking the Stairs for a Week

Wearables have made it much easier to track how many stairs you climb.
Anne Cruz
Wearables have made it much easier to track how many stairs you climb.

WSN’s Features Desk is running a new series we’re calling “I Tried…” Each piece will feature a member of our staff who’s added something new, weird or a little crazy to their lives. In this installment, News Editor Anne Cruz goes a week without using elevators.

I’m a person who is in relatively good shape. I work out at least a few hours a week and have an otherwise active lifestyle. However, stairs have always been the bane of my existence. Running up anything more than three flights reminds me of swim practices when my coach thought my teammates and I were getting too chatty.

Normally my aversion to stairs doesn’t bother me: that’s what escalators and elevators are for. However, I decided to challenge myself and to only take the stairs for a week. I thought it’d be an easy way to increase my daily exercise and be more eco-conscious in the process.

I was wrong. For starters, stairs are not as accessible as you’d think. In places like the journalism building at 20 Cooper Square, the staircases are only used in emergencies. Since I have class there and also needed access to their computers, that meant I had to take the elevator at least once a day. At the WSN office, though I was allowed to take the stairs, a co-worker had to let me in each time because the doors only opened from outside of the stairwell (thank you Zach, Lexi and Alex!). More than a physical feat, not taking the elevator was just oddly inconvenient. Whenever friends from the newspaper and I would go out to grab dinner at Palladium, I would sprint down the stairs to meet them as they exited the elevator on the ground floor, and they would have to hold the door open for me at the fifth floor of the office when we returned.

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The good news, however, was that I was able to have a much more active lifestyle when I chose to take the stairs. On my fitbit app, it’s usually really difficult for me to hit my daily flights climbed goals, but I surpassed them all six days out of the week I chose take the stairs whenever I could. I was also able to meet my active minutes goal more easily, especially because I was too busy to go to the gym that week.

There were several times I took the elevator when I could’ve taken the stairs. On the first day, a woman at the writing center held the elevator for me as I walked into the building. Not wanting to seem rude, I hopped in. On the second to last day, I didn’t drink my morning coffee and just hopped in the elevator out of habit, not remembering I was supposed to take the stairs.

Ultimately, taking the stairs was personally satisfying to add to my daily routine. However, the inconvenience of forcing myself to take the stairs at stair-unfriendly places like the WSN office made my endeavor not worth sticking to for more than seven days. I now still take the stairs in Carlyle, where I live — it eliminates time waiting in the lobby — but now I’m more than content to go back to my elevator-using ways.

Email Anne Cruz at [email protected]

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