Enforced Activity

Here are the facts:

I work in a six story, former men’s dormitory on the campus of a small North Dakota college.  The building was constructed in 1965. For some reason, there were a large number of men enrolling in college then.

There are two stairwells on the east and west sides of the building, and one elevator on the south side of the building.  It is an Otis elevator.

My office is on the fourth floor. My play therapy room is on the fifth floor. Our agency occupies the basement and the first five floors of the building. There is an educational training cooperative on the sixth floor.

The Otis corporation decided recently that the elevator, the 1965 original, must be completely replaced. This includes the elevator car and all the workings that pull the elevator up and down.  Doing this will take eight weeks. The educational cooperative has moved to other digs until November 1. My agency has no choice but to stay where we are and walk the stairs.

I am out of shape.  I always take the elevator. We must accompany all our clients from the first floor to our offices.

Well, we have no elevator now, and I am doing stairs like crazy. I am exhausted. We have made arrangements that the halt and the lame will receive services on first floor.  Everyone else must trudge up the stairs to where they need to go. I anticipate that my blood sugar and cholesterol  will decrease through the elevator revamp.

How do you keep in shape?

49 thoughts on “Enforced Activity”

  1. renee
    this is the best program ever for you

    my homeopathic doctor told me years ago if we all just stopped using elevators and started using stairs our health would improve tremendously
    i feel guilty every time i take the elevator
    if it’s two or three floors i usually take the stairs for this reason
    did you notice the wonderful acoustics in the stairwell? it’s my favorite place to sing
    they used to talk about the capitol records building in nashville where there was a spot in the basement wherecthevsvcoustics made the voices sound perfect for reverb
    i love the sound of reverbvwhen i sing or whistle in a stairwell

    by the way my hips have recently began acting up and making me feel old when going up stairs

    if i focus on making my knees go straight up and down in front of me (same mentality as standing erect) and lifting my knees in a more military fashion than is my normal gait, it is really a noticeable difference

    get your step counter app plugged into your new life and celebrate your marvelous conditioning

    maybe you can keep the stairs in your life after otis is back

    who is paying for otis’s decision that everything needs to be replaced? tax dollars
    why don’t they just maintain their stuff and shut up?
    if they start recommending every elevator from 65 back becreplaced i thinknibwantvto look into going into the elevator replacement business

    a motorca cable a brake system and a box for a million bucks… i’m in

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Otis people are regular visitors at our building as the elevator is tempermental. Sometimes it doesn’t line up flush with the floor, and you have to step up to walk out. Several people have tripped and fallen into the elevator as a result.


      1. I have a cousin who works for Otis, I think, or used to. He often made trips to the Twin Cities to consult with maintenance people on their antique Otis elevators. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts was on his client list.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. i have the crud right now where my breathing feels like i smoked 3 packs of cigarettes last night so i am on the executive triathlon mode ( steam room sauna and whirlpool) normallt i work out with weights and cardio stuff 4-5 times a week doing legs shoulders and abs say 1 and back and biceps chest and triceps day two
    cardio every damn day and a 2 minute shake down on a vibrating plate the works in an odd way
    i change it up regularly to make it interesting and to make it new for the muscle groups
    they get bored too
    i will try to get swimming back into the program i enjoy it but have been under the gun for time of late and have used that as an excuse
    i’m upset with myself because i could be swimming in the outdoor pool now and in a month when i will start back up for real it will be in the little lap pool on the windowless little lap room with no soul
    i swim well but it like other cardio is not out of live but out of obligation to health
    if only i could sing and whistle while i swim. maybe if i do it in my head i will enjoy it more

    it’s worth a shot

    some enchanted evening……..

    Liked by 4 people

    1. A mighty motivating condition—I remember a lot of guys going to college who otherwise might have gone to work elsewhere. One cousin in particular enrolled as a freshman at the local college where we lived. He spent the entire first and only semester tearing up the college pea-patch. The Dean called my mother, his aunt, to complain. He launched himself into another trouble-making career elsewhere and never did get to Viet Nam. He is now the world land-speed record-holder on a motorcycle. And in a wheelchair, since his last run, ten years ago, ended in a disabling accident. The family as a whole was only surprised that he lived through it al all. All those extra college dorm rooms did not accomplish much for the world.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Land speed record? That’s pretty cool! Sorry about the accident though.

        I’ll argue the other side of those college rooms: how many people came through there that went on to teach or inspire or create or whatnot? I’m sure they did accomplish something to some.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I am sure many of these guys had productive lives. My cousin, not-so-much—3 marriages, 3 divorces, lots of disruption. Now a wheelchair. Kinda sad.


  3. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    Unfortunately, I go to the gym most days. This is not something I really enjoy like a natural athlete, I must do it to maintain my bones. I used to walk 3-4 miles per day until daily walking on cement was too harsh for my hip joints. I have needed to do this since cancer and chemo—-my joints seemed to get stiff and sore from the day of diagnosis on, and daily exercise keeps me moving. I also have to do weight training for bone strength since all of the above affected my bones and teeth, making them weaker.

    This is probably not the answer you want to hear. The stairs are probably the best thing you can do. In 2014 after several weeks in Norway and Edinburgh, Scotland, both hilly, stair-laden places, I could do 10 minutes on the stair climber at the gym. I made myself proud.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Well, based on my fitbit data, I should go to the Fair every day. I have a fairly sedentary lifestyle. My cube is in an old warehouse, so everything is all on one floor. I sit pretty close to the lunchroom and the bathroom and honestly these days, with people telecommuting and computers being needed for everything, I don’t move around much during the work day. But State Fair has me walking almost 4 times as much as a regular day. Of course, that’s probably offset by Sweet Martha and Hawaiian Shave Ice!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I firmly believe that the Fair is a net benefit for people’s health, as long as they don’t rent a scooter to get around. The food is probably not nearly as bad for you as people believe, and the sprawling grounds insure you get plenty of exercise. So much to do, so much to see.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. HI–

    I’m not good at walking a lot due to my foot and knee issues. And I alternate stairs and elevators, but given a choice I’ll take an elevator. Luckily, by my theater there are two elevators. 🙂 But boy, 5 floors?? Sucks to be you.
    I agree, it should ultimately be good for you.
    Kelly and a co-worker try to do stairs for exercise a few times a week. She’ll do 17 floors up and down on a good day.
    The health app on my iPhone counts riding in the tractor as floors. I can get 35 floor some days and I feel real good about myself!

    A friend did the stairs of the New World Trade Center in some sort of competition last year. That boggles my mind! Some people went up in a crazy time of like 2 minutes. It was like 7 seconds / floor. !!

    Renee– time yourself. See if it changes in 8 weeks.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. How do I keep myself in shape? This year I’m not. Naps have been my activity of choice. Stairs are my enemy. Any attempts to start or continue an exercise program have failed.

    I am planning to walk to the library today (5 blocks one way).

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I go to VINE, the old age center and charity outreach. They have a padded walking track around the top floor, windows all the way. Cannot walk. They have a machine room with 14 machines that exercise parts of the body . I cannot torque or twist my back. That eliminates 3 machines. I cracked a rib on the operating table so cannot put stress on chest in certain ways. That eliminates 3 machines. For one you have to stand. Another down. That leaves me seven, which I do but am only allowed modest repetitions ans weight load. Also have a bike machine. Cannot do rotary lotions on knees. A treadmill and two walking machines. Cannot do those. That leaves a machine of which they have four. It is like a recumbent bike but you push your feet back and forth. Over did it a couple of times. So PT says I can only do two five minute uses of the machines spaced at least 15 minutes apart. I also have some very light PT exercises to do.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The “senior citizen community” I live in has a nice gym with about a dozen exercise machines. It’s next door to my apartment, so I see it every time I leave to go somewhere. In 15 months here, I have seen exactly one person in that room. He was there to turn on the lights.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The one I use is often too busy. They have a floor in the building to expand into, which will include a much larger room, more,machines. People come in wheel chairs and with attendants.


  8. Walk, bike, aerobic machines in winter and inclement weather, ice skate and XC ski in season, golf (I walk a hilly course at a fast past about 99% of my rounds–excellent “stop-start” cardio), an do weight training twice a week (34+ years now–I would have given it up decades ago at 3 times a week or more, which is what the experts say is required, but I say better to do it less and stay with it long term. As a result, I do NOT look anything pre-governor-of-California “Ah-nold.” Just tall and thin. I mainly do the weights and stretching for flexibility–helps the golf swing a lot.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I have a little 7 minute yoga workout in the morning, only thing I do every day, but it keeps me limber. I like to think my twice weekly t’ai chi at the senior center is good exercise, but it’s not usually aerobic – slow sustained movements great for balance and leg strength. I also go into the workout room now once or twice a week and do some machines for upper body – I’d really like more arm strength. And when biking season is over, I’ll do that.

    One good thing about those stairs, Renee, is that it’s weight bearing exercise, which is what helps rebuild bones. I need to do more walking in my life, or stairs, as biking where I am (flat part of Winona) isn’t all that aerobic, and not weight bearing. This post may inspire me to take some of the flights at my mom’s building as stairs. Don’t think I’ll probably do all 5 floors, but I could do 2 or 3 and the rest on the elevator…


    1. VINE has more tha a dozen group yoga, stretch,balance, water exercise classes held 2-3 times a week for seniors. All well attended I think social element is big attraction as well.


  10. I have a mostly sedentary lifestyle as well with a desk job. Have not been to karate lately. However, I have learned about a concept called NEAT — a cool acronym for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. As name implies, it’s technically not exercise — just any movement done regularly throughout the day which can accomplish quite a bit for health. I put an app on my phone called MindBell and set it for every 30 minutes. When the gong tolls, I get up and do some type of movement for 2-3 minutes through the work day. Could be a bit of walking, arm circles, punches, small kicks, march in place, stepping side-to-side, big arm movements, squats, etc. The idea is MOVE YOUR BODY in some fashion regularly throughout the day and it does wonders for your energy and alertness.

    I have bad knees, bad ankles and injuries from sports, dance and karate so I’m somewhat limited in what I can do. But I can do NEAT and so should you! Doesn’t matter what you do, just so you’re moving. Our bodies are designed for movement. Give it a try!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Today is my second day taking the stairs and it already seems easier than the day before. When the elevator is back in service, I will have some hard choices to make about keeping on taking the stairs. I bet it will be easier to do as I will be in shape, and i have very little self motivation for exercise.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. He refereed HS basketball and foot ball every year from 1945 until his knees gave out in the 1980’s. He umpired HS baseball from 1945 until he was 88 in 2009. He refed girls volleyball hofor r a little after that.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. This topic put me in mind of formidable sets of stairs I’ve encountered. Renee- in Quebec did you ever climb the stairs to the Plains of Abraham from the streets below? Memorable stairs.

    The others I can think of, offhand, are the stairs to the top of Giotto’s Tower in Florence (I was feeling pretty smug about managing them until I was passed by an Italian woman in high heels) and the Wallace Monument in Stirling, Scotland.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I climbed to the top of the vatican, the Quebec stairs you mention, up the bell tower in Salisbury Cathedral, and more than I can think of now. I went on a college summer seminar studying gothic architecture all over Europe. We climbed a lot of narrow staircases.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Back when I was working for what is now KPMG, our offices were located on the 17th, 18th, and 19th floors of the IDS Center in Mpls. Every year during tax season there were a bunch of us who joined in an office wide weight-loss effort. It was brutal, and not very politically correct. At the beginning of the initiative each person who joined signed a contract stating their goal for the duration – January 2nd through April 15th – as well as two week interim goals. If you failed to reach your interim goals you were subjected to office wide ridicule and shaming. Sometimes it was really mean. On the weigh-in day it was not unusual to see some pretty peculiar office attire for that time of year. Anything to assure you were below your stated goal weight.

    One of the initiatives was taking the stairs during lunch hour. I have climbed the stairs to the 18th floor of the IDC building many, many times. Once a year, we also participated in some fund raising effort that involved climbing the stairs all the way to the top (51 floors). I’ve done that five times. Doubt that I’d survive that today.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. WordPress thinks I’m trying to post a delicate comment. Forgive me if this posts twice, but I don’t see it posting once.

    My neighborhood used to have the Green Stairs, a structure that took you from the flats at the foot of the Wabasha Street bridge up to the bluff where my house is located. It was an approximately eight story climb. I used to know how many steps, but I’ve forgotten. I climbed it many times, but did not particularly like doing it. When I reached the top, I was always a little breathless and dizzy, and you had to walk a somewhat vertigo-inducing gangplank to get to the bluff from the stair structure. Even though there were railings, it made me feel vulnerable to traverse that last bit.

    The stairs have been gone for a number of years. It’s still an uphill climb to get home from the bottom to the top of the bluff, but it’s a much more gradual climb.

    I usually opt for the stairs rather than the elevator, but I’m starting to like elevators more as my knees grow creakier. But usually if elderly people fall on stairs, they fall when they’re going down rather than when they’re going up. So I take the elevator down, and the stairs up.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. There’s another set of stairs on the West Side, and they are still there.
      They connect Cesar Chavez St. below, a short distance from the southbound HWY 52 entrance ramp, to Prescott St. above. I used to live in the old mansion at the top of those stairs.

      I’d take the bus home from work in downtown St. Paul to the stop on Cesar Chavez at the bottom of that staircase. Then I’d race up those stairs, two steps at a time. I’d do that five days a week after work, and of course, after a while everyone on the bus, including the driver, knew me because of it. One day the bus driver decided to keep the bus waiting there while I raced to the top of the stairs, everyone in the bus cheering me on. He told me the next day that he had me suspected of racing up the stairs, two at a time, for as long as the bus was there. I was completely oblivious to them all watching me; it was a personal challenge to myself, it never occurred to me that anyone was watching.. Fun memory. And NO, there’s no way I could or would even attempt that today. Back then, thirty-five years ago, I was in much better shape, and had boundless energy. Sigh!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. When son Joel was maybe three years, a few other moms and I regularly did aerobics at Lynette’s house. When I explained to Joel that I was going to do exercises to get in shape, he thought for a bit and said, “MY body’s already shaped.”

    Liked by 3 people

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