Saturday, December 17, 2011

Take the stairs, and other impossible health advice

A fire alarm rings at work. You leave your desk and properly evacuate to the parking garage. It turns out to be a drill, and 10 minutes later you are allowed back. You get a brilliant idea: you'll use this disruption to do something good for you health. You'll take the stairs up to the third floor where your office is. And maybe you should try walking up and down the stairs a few times during the day, so your butt won't meld with the chair. You don't quite remember where the stairs are in this building -- you only took them once -- but a building deputy showed them to you.

You go up to the third floor. The stairwell door won't open. It's locked. You swear the last time you tried it, it was unlocked.

You go up to the 4th (top) floor, then to the 2nd floor, and all the stairwell doors are locked. You get down to the first floor, and the door is unlocked, but it opens into a small dead-end hallway with several other nondescript, identical, unlabeled doors. You try one after another, until you find one that opens into a longer hallway, which leads you to the elevators... just in time before your claustrophobia flares up.

This is what happens in corporate America when you try to do something good for your health. It's like that in pretty much any office building. In some buildings, I heard, people are so discouraged from using the stairs, that an alarm would go off if you open the stairwell door! The stairs are to be used strictly as a fire exit.

And yet there is no shortage of health experts who tell us to incorporate small acts of fitness into our daily life, first and foremost by taking the stairs. Also, ride your bicycle to work. Uh-huh. And play Russian roulette with the cars whizzing by, and arrive to your cubicle sweaty, and delight coworkers with your post-workout aroma. None of those experts must have ever worked in corporate America, or lived in a suburb. Next thing they'll tell us to eat cake. :-)

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