And I did. For the past month plus (editor’s note: I’m writing this message in early October), just about every day that I’ve been in the office I set an hourly timer that reminds me to get up and walk around. My office is on the first floor, which also decreases my daily movement (though my car is parked ½ mile from my office, so that helps a bit). Now every hour, the timer goes off, I stand up, go up 2 flights of stairs, across the 3rd floor hallway, and then down the other stairs.
It isn’t about getting serious exercise. I recognize that 1 ½ minutes around the building is not going to improve my lung capacity, strengthen my heart, build muscle tone, or result in weight loss. But I believe it’s good for me in several other ways. On days that I have a lot of meetings, many of them happen in my office (I have a small table in here) and so I could go many hours without leaving this room. On rare days that I don’t have many meetings, I can end up at my desk without moving for an extended time. So it’s good for my 50-year-old body that I move my joints around every once in a while. It’s good for my 50-year-old eyes that I stop staring at my computer once in a while. And it’s good for my cluttered brain to pull away from whatever is on that computer screen for a couple of minutes every hour. I think it also makes me less likely to get sleepy in the afternoon.
Here is what September, the first full month I tried it, looks like compared to prior months:
Another telling image is to think about not averages, but day-to-day variation. So, here is each day in the month of September:
Finally, you can look at what happens on a relatively normal (on the higher than average end) day:
Are there negatives to this new strategy? Not really. I sometimes forget to turn it off before a meeting and it goes off, loudly. In the beginning, I would get questioning looks from my colleagues who know my office is on the 1st floor and weren’t used to seeing me much in the stairway. But look – I’m already the crazy lady who sits on an exercise ball instead of an office chair, so I can handle the puzzled looks. And it gives me more opportunities to bump into my colleagues during the day, which I like. Plus, people are getting used to it and so now, more often than not, someone in the stairwell will say, “oh, are you on your stair walk?” Perhaps I will start a trend and we will all go up and down the stairs together hourly. But even if not, I’m happy to have incorporated this one, very small, very easy modification to my daily routine to improve my overall wellbeing.
“Small steps: Walking the stairs once an hour first appeared on Eva Lefkowitz’s blog on November 8, 2018.”