On a typical morning in this hypothetical six-story office building, the lobby is filled with employees heading to their respective offices. The area around the elevator bank is crowded with folks waiting for the next elevator. A door opens, bodies flood in to capacity, buttons are pushed, and the elevator moves from the first floor to the second floor. More bodies pour in, and the elevator moves to the second floor. On this goes until the modern people transporter incrementally reaches the sixth floor.

In 1853, Elisha Graves Otis invented the elevator brake, making the elevator fit for human use. Otis’s invention laid the foundation for future inventions, with the electric elevator invented by the end of the nineteenth century. These people movers made skyscrapers a practical reality. With some skyscrapers over 100 floors, people can easily be transported up and down tall buildings.

Why the history lesson? It’s important to understand why elevators were designed in the first place: to solve the problem of moving people who live or work in skyscrapers, and to assist people with physical challenges. Elevators were not designed to transport us up a few flights of stairs (unless, of course, we’re injured or recovering from a recent surgery).

In our zeal to rewire our bodies and stay fit, here’s our mission: avoid elevators and escalators at all costs. When entering a building, we’re now on a mission to figure out where the heck are the stairs? They are often hidden from the main areas, with tiny difficult-to-find signs that indicate the location of those secret slabs of concrete. Every building has them; it’s required by building code. You may have to ask someone or venture around corners to discover their hidden presence.

When you finally discover the stairs, don’t look up, you could get discouraged at the chore ahead. Put one foot in front of the other and go. You may need to start slowly, and that’s okay. Each day will get easier. And, if you work on the 42nd floor, sorry, no excuses. Get off on the 38th floor and walk up the last four flights, increasing your journey as you make progress.

As you rewire to this new approach, you may encounter peer pressure. The crowd returns from lunch and heads for the elevator, or you’re with some friends at the mall. Announce that you’re taking the stairs, or just walk up the escalator. You may get a few blank stares, or maybe a few joiners.

There are occasions in which the stairs are not present. If faced with an escalator, walk up on the left, dodging bodies and shopping bags. You will get used to saying excuse me or pardon me to those camped out on the left who forget the stand-right, walk-left guideline.

This is our new practice. A permanent part of our lifestyle. And, if you’re feeling lazy one day, remember that the elevator wasn’t designed to move folks like us up several flights of stairs.

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