The mayor of New York, Mike Bloomberg wants New Yorkers to take the stairs more often but a writer for Gawker wonders why.
“Specifically, Bloomberg has “issued an executive order requiring city agencies to promote the use of stairways and use smart design strategies for all new construction and major renovations.” Going forward, more areas of New York City will have more staircases, and you will walk up those stairs more than you do now. You will, perhaps, take fewer elevators and escalators. You will climb a greater total number of stairs in your day to day life in New York City than you do now. Will this get you “in good shape?” No, it will not.”
Read the rest here: Taking the Stairs Will Not Get You in Shape.
I’m a huge fan of everyday exercise: hanging laundry on the line, biking to work, and yes, taking the stairs. (I’ve blogged about it of course. See In praise of everyday movement.) Tracy too has wondered What “Counts”? when it comes to exercise.
Here’s where some distinctions might come in handy. For sure, taking the stairs is movement. It’s physical activity. But I don’t think of it as athletic training, as helping to make me more fit.
Movement is good and more movement is better and stairs are part of the picture. But getting fitter, like getting faster, requires goals and a plan.
So just where does everyday exercise fit in?
I think the answer is in part, it depends. When I starting working with a personal trainer at the Y in my late 30s I dutifully logged all my exercise including my bike commute. About a year later he asked if I’d started driving to work. No, I said. But without thinking I’d stopped logging the commute. At the time I was training with the UWO triathlon club and in light of those workouts the bike commute was barely registering.
But my bike commuting got a huge reaction from the students, triathletes all. You biked to campus? Um, yes. Before our swim workout? Yes. They were shocked at the idea of doing anything before our morning swim. They seemed to only “train” and shunned everyday movement.
Think back to our friends the sedentary athletes, those who work out and then flop. I had a friend who took the elevator at work because he was saving his strength for “leg day.” Dead lifts and squats, sure, but for now he’s elevating between floors at the university.
I’m in favour of both things: athletic training and active everyday living.
Like many of us I’m struck by the big differences between Europeans and North Americans when it comes to this. In Europe, it seems to me, most people look reasonably fit, insofar as you can read that off someone’s appearance. They take the stairs, walk lots and commute by bike. (They also seem to smoke more but that’s another topic.) In North America, we have the dichotomy between the average person, who doesn’t look fit, and the super fit who look like another species walking among us! Here it seems we either train or we do nothing. It’s North Americans who are mocked for driving to the gym.
So I think we need both, athletic training and everyday movement. Don’t take the stairs at work to get super fit. The Gawker writer is right. It won’t work. But keep moving because it’s good for you.
And here’s stairs I love. Sweden wins over New York, I’d say!