I have to get something off my chest. I’m going to go on a rant here, so be forewarned, it might not be pretty.
For years I’ve been battling against a giant monster. This monster is a social unconsciousness that is woven into our society so thoroughly that few ever give it much thought. They don’t realize how they are contributing to the demise of their, and others, good health.
I’d like to change this unconscious mentality. I help people, every day, change their eating habits and improve their fitness. However, changing an entire society’s way of thinking is a little overwhelming. Actually, it is a lot overwhelming. It feels kind of like pushing a ’55 Chevy up a 500 foot high sand dune.
The Battle Against The Lazy Monsters
My battle is against a mentality. This monster is the mentality that allows us all to justify using machines instead of our bodies. These machines I’m talking about are nearly everywhere: apartment buildings, department stores, schools, subways, sky scrapers, and even gyms. These machines contribute to the laziness of our society. They are the enemy of your good health. These lazy machines are not only used by the elderly or those with physical impairments of the lower limbs, as they were designed for, but also by people who are fit and perfectly capable of climbing a couple flights of stairs.
Yes, these lazy monsters I’m referring to are elevators and escalators. They are partially responsible for degrading the health of perfectly good people. These devices, along with automatic opening doors, were intended for people with physical disabilities. Now, these devices are causing the disabilities. Now that is irony.
My problem is not so much with the machines themselves, because they certainly have a place in modern society. My problem is with the mentality of the people who use those machines (and the architects that design the buildings they’re in). These devices do the difficult physical work of lifting a person’s body up an elevation so they don’t have to use any physical energy or muscles. It reminds me of royalty being carried around. Those were the days when the normal person had to use physical labor to survive. The person who did not have to was wealthy enough to pay someone else to do work for them.
There was a well-known professional cyclist who used to have his Soigneurs (assistant) carry him up stairs (when there were no elevators) so he could save his energy for the race. This sounds ridiculous and extreme, but it makes sense when you note that his livelihood and ability to race in peak performance is decided by the power he can produce from his legs. How many of you are getting paid to use your legs to their maximum potential? If you are, then you have my blessing to take the elevator – or be carried.
The real problem, as I see it, is the mentality, the unconscious mentality of modern society. Why do people use elevators and escalators when stairs are easily accessible and they are only traveling a few floors? “It’s just easier”, I hate that one. “I’m tired”. Rally? From what, sitting in a car or at a desk? “I didn’t really think about it”, that one I blame on the architects of buildings that hide the stairs, and of the social mentality that is masking the thoughts.
This broad sweeping social unconsciousness is the real cause of this social evil. Where did this mentality come from? Humans have a long history of hard physical labor. It has only been since recent times that we no longer need to exert effort to live or move. We can drive cars, push buttons, even have a meal delivered directly to our house. But, that quest for ease has gone too far, I think. It has permeated our society so much so that most people don’t even think about the alternatives and the benefits they will receive from taking the stairs, instead of allowing a machine to lift them up.
I also blame the architects. If buildings were configured with the stairs in prominent locations, and the elevators more difficult to find, I am certain more people would use the stairs. Yes, I have taken lifting conveyances before, but only under special circumstances. Usually, I go out of my way to take the stairs. It bugs me because I want to be efficient, but I can’t stand to ride in that little box to go up a floor or two. I’ll usually take the elevator if I have to ascend more than 10 floors or if I’m carrying a heavy load or pulling a cart.
My wife and I have a running joke. Whenever we go somewhere, we seem to find, and climb, every stair case in the area. She claims I do it on purpose and calls it my “No Stair Left Behind Project”. I laugh and take a picture. I started a Facebook page to collect pictures of our accomplishments and invite others to do so as well.
Reasons To Take The Stairs
- There’s no waiting.
- No uncomfortable silences.
- No uncomfortable eye contact avoidance.
- No chance of the cables breaking and plunging you down to the depths of the Earth and your death.
- No wondering who tooted.
- No worries about getting trapped in a small box for hours.
- If there’s a fire, you are already ready to make a quick escape.
- You will build strong leg muscles.
- You will improve your cardiorespiratory system.
- You will burn about 100 calories in 10 minutes of walking up stairs.
Reasons To Take The Elevator
- You get to stand and wait and do nothing.
- You can practice making others feel uncomfortable while you stair at them.
- You can blame someone else for your toot.
- You can lean on strangers and ask inappropriate questions.
- If the cable breaks, you get to free fall. This is something sky divers pay a lot of money to do.
- Find out if you’d like to be a miner by spending time in a small box in a dark shaft.
- You’re lazy.
- You love pressing all the lighted buttons.
- If it gets stuck, you can practice your patience.
- It burns almost no calories. So you don’t have to eat as much.
I’ve seen fit and healthy people walk right past the stairs and stand to wait for the elevator. I’ve even seen personal trainers do this. I’ve seen strong, healthy people on their way to a tennis game stand and wait for the elevator. It’s one thing when adults do it, but when they drag their kids down the road to laziness is when I get really disturbed. Sure, they are creating new customers for me – but that is not what I want. I want everybody to be fit and able. I’d love it if there were no need for personal trainers or the diet industry.
The point here is that the parents are setting an example and teaching their kids to take the stairs – even when they are in the building to exercise. Certainly they have a knowledge that exercise is good for them, yet the easiest, most obvious exercise that would not only take them to where they want to be, but also give them a warm up before they hit the courts, is not being used. Why? The social unconsciousness? Stairs are not cool? Lazy? Don’t want to be too tired for the tennis game? Is it a status thing? “It’s just easier.” Well, so is sitting on the couch.
Give Up Control
Are they royalty? Prima donnas? Superior to the rest of us? I don’t think that is most people’s thought. “It’s just easier”. The problem with that rational is that it teaches our children that they can’t, and shouldn’t, do things for themselves. This attitude infuses into their psyche and manifests as part of their personality. To be an armchair psychologist for a second, I’ll venture to say that similar personality traits lead to others traits that have more harmful long-term effects, such as not taking responsibility for oneself and always looking for help outside of oneself. In other words, not doing things for themselves, and allowing something or someone control them. This does not create a responsible adult.
Let’s Stop It Before It Starts
OK, maybe that is a big stretch for some of you to believe. But, when a person presses a button instead of using an arm to open a door, they are taking the easy way. When someone stands on an escalator instead of walking up the stairs, they are taking the easy way. When that same person is left with a choice of running on the treadmill instead of walking at a leisurely pace, and they pick the latter, their health and fitness is going to diminish (over time). When that person decides to not go to the gym, or not say no to that piece of cheese cake or not do any number of things that are important for good health, they are taking the easy way. This attitude did not appear from no where. It gradually worked its way into their personality. Let’s stop it before it starts.
Be The Best You Can Be – For Them
I want the next generation to be responsible for the things they eat and the ways in which they eat them. I want them to be, and feel, motivated and highly responsible for their very own health and fitness. I want them to be willing to do anything they can to stay fit. I want the next generation to be physically capable of walking up 200 steps without stopping to rest, to study, learn, listen, take charge, question and do. In short, I want them to be as fit, able, and healthy as the human body can be. No diseases or disorders caused by neglect.
That is enough of my rant, I’d really like to hear what people think as to why elevators and escalators are so acceptable in a society that is constantly striving to get fit? Let’s break this complacent attitude of social unconsciousness and take the stairs. Encourage everyone you know to take the stairs. Take a photo and send it to me. I’d like to see the stairs that you climb, big or small, pretty or borring, thay all count.
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