No Thanks, I’ll Take the Stairs

Brent Pittman —  08/05/2013
going against the flow

Taking the stairs isn’t normal.

As I exit my vehicle and head towards the entrance of my work each day a strange little dance begins to unfold.

I swipe my security card and head indoors and wind down the hallway where 5 elevators await to whisk me to my desk on the 5th floor.

If I’m fortunate enough, no one will be there waiting on the elevator and I’ll duck around the corner and hit the stairs.

Alas, many days there will be a polite person waiting, hey this is Oklahoma not New York, and they’ll inevitably be holding the elevator for me.

“No Thanks, I’ll take the stairs.” I shout down the hallway to the bewildered polite person holding the elevator.

Taking the Stairs

I’m not sure when I became a stair taker, but I take pride in it. At the mall, stairs (if I can find them). At the airport, I’ll take the stairs in the middle of two inviting escalators.

I’m often annoyed in places like hotels which seem to hide their stairways and have them exiting outside the comfort of the lobby. Why hide the stairs?

I feel as in most places, I’m herded and encouraged to the take the escalator or elevator. I’m lulled into being pushed along the “people movers” at the airports too, instead of walking.

I often feel like cattle with these devices instead of a person with free will–and legs for that matter.

Taking the Stairs is a Daily Choice

calories per stairs chart

Small steps burn calories. Credit @ontargetcoach

It’s easy to take the elevators and escalators in life, yet they don’t make us stronger or give as much satisfaction as taking the stairs.

I burn a good bit of calories by this daily choice too. How much? This chart in our office stairway encourages us to burn the 3,500 calories needed to burn a pound of fat. That’s a lot of stairs!

Taking the stairs is daily choice. With each flight of stairs I’m burning about 4 calories. Not much right? Add that up to a daily average of 8 flights (going up and down in between departments) equals about 32 calories each day.

Weekly 160 calories. Monthly 640 calories. Yearly 7680 calories–Bam!  That’s enough to burn or keep off 2 pounds of fat each year!

Those little steps each day at the office add up to a larger yearly gain.

It Works for Money Too!

The choosing to take the stairs principle works for money too. Think you can’t save much? Save or invest a little each paycheck and see the wonder of compound interest.

Have debt? Apply a little extra above the minimum payments and see that debt start to shrink. Apply even more and that debt will be snowballing down the hill at crazy speeds.

Be Weird and Take the Stairs

Small steps pay off. The hard thing to do is the daily choice to make the effort.

Yes, you’ll be odd by taking the stairs. You risk offending others, having others talk about you, and looking weird by not following the rest of the cattle.

Do it! Apply the “take the stairs” principle to life and you’ll one stepping your way to success.

Try applying this saying literally and figuratively today, “No thanks, “ll take the stairs.”

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Brent Pittman

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Brent is a financial coach and writer looking for the perfect donut. He believes personal finance should be both fun and accessible to anyone willing to learn.
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  • Hi Brent,

    That’s a simple tip that likely leads to other good habits, too. My guess is that after realizing some boost in confidence from always taking the steps, other healthy habits are likely to emerge (biking instead of driving, eating fruit for snacks, etc.).

  • Tie the Money Knot

    I take the stairs, if it’s 3 floors or less. It’s a nice way to get a little bit of exercise in, and besides that it’s good to lean towards being active than sedentary.

  • AvgJoeMoney

    Interesting: I heard an architect bemoan this same topic recently. He was discussing how beautiful and healthy a staircase can be. He tries to hide the elevators whenever possible! Great analogy to money.

  • Colorado has a law that, outside of down-town Denver, new buildings can’t be over 5 stories tall. This is to keep the views intact. But it means that I don’t come across a lot of elevators, either.
    I do remember in college living in the freshman dorms, which where a 10 story tower. If you tried to take the elevator to anything lower than the 5th floor, you would get a lot of dirty looks!

  • Jules@Faithful With a Few

    I always take the stairs!! I didn’t always, but now I do. They are so good for u..little by little the steps add up! Great comparison!

  • If I only have to go up one flight, it’s a no brainer for me to take the stairs as long as I can find them. In one recent building I was in, it took me almost a week to find them. They put the elevators at the center of the building and staircases at either end.

    • I hate it when they do that…and you wonder why people die in fires.

  • Love the message here. I take the stairs too when I can, though it’s not quite as often when I have my son. I’ve also gotten into the habit of parking further away from entrances, just to give myself a little bit extra of a walk. I like the comparison to saving as well. Small regular habits can go a long way.

    • Yes, it gets challenging when you’ve got the stroller. I can’t wait to teach my son the ritual of stair climbing though.

  • krantcents

    It can be lonely to get away from the herd! I take the stars quite often and do it multiple times a day at work. When I teach, I never sit down which is another way to burn calories.

    • I bet you’re in better shape than most of your students! Do they know about your secret blogging life?