The Stairs And I: An Exercise Story

Yo, reading fans, listen up! It’s shout-out time, because if it weren’t for Janet Sheridan, the hunk of wordage that you’re staring at right now wouldn’t exist. If you end up not enjoying this story, then blame Janet, not me!

Now, Janet is the talent behind an excellent website to which she has given the name Aunt Beulah. You’ll have to go over to Janet’s place (clicking here will direct you to it) to find out why she titled it as she did. Janet is a witty and agile writer. Her essays about her life are well worth your time.

In a piece that she published on April 15, Janet talks about her experiences over the years with exercising. I added a comment to her article in which I indicated that I don’t particularly love to engage in regimented exercise, but that for a long time I’ve consistently performed one form of same. Lucky for me that I read Janet’s essay. If I hadn’t, nor posted a comment, then I wouldn’t have been sparked to write an opus of my own on the subject.

Zipley parking garage

Here’s what I said in the comments section of Janet’s essay: “I’m not as devoted to exercise as you. But I’ve been doing the following for years: Three or four times a week I climb (without stopping) the 130 steps in a parking garage near my home. Doesn’t take too long, which I like (because I’m lazy!).”

Damn right I’m lazy. And I’ve gotten to the age (70) where, in my biased opinion, there’s no shame in being that way. Hell, after decades of mowing the lawn, raking leaves, vacuuming rooms, shoveling snow, etc., etc. — all of which I continue to do, extremely reluctantly  — about the only things I actually want to break a sweat over anymore are chowing down Cheez-It crackers late at night while sitting on my sofa as I twiddle the few strands of hair remaining on the crown of my head, and devouring slices of pizza at lunchtime at pizzerias.

Excuse me while I catch my breath . . . that was a long sentence.

Oh yeah, and walking. I like to go out for walks, as regular readers of this publication are aware. If it weren’t for the walks I take and write about, this here blog would be only half the size that it is. But I don’t think of walking as exercise. That’s because it gives me love, not pain. Not only that, walking doesn’t raise my heart rate to the level at which I wonder if I’m going to expire within the next few seconds, which is something that true exercise, I think, is supposed to do. Expire? Me? Shit, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

I now shall devote some paragraphs to stair-climbing. But before I do I’m going to head out the door to the parking garage I mentioned. I’ll climb the stairs there and also snap some dazzling photos that I’ll place in this story. Is there anything better than looking at pictures of a parking garage and of its stairwell? Talk about excitement! I’ll be back at my keyboard fairly soon, hoping to complete this noteworthy essay in two or three more writing sessions. Till then, peace, sisters and brothers.

As promised, I’m back. Not only did I climb the stairs and push the button quite a few times on my iPhone’s camera, I subsequently went to a local pizzeria for a couple of slices. So I’m now typing away on a full, satisfied stomach.

Near the bottom of stairwell

Turns out I was in error when I said to Janet that the parking garage I frequent contains 130 stairs. On my jaunt up its stairwell an hour and a half ago (that is, at 12:30 PM on April 18), I paid strict attention to the number of stairs. There are 135 of them, and they are spread out over 15 half-flights. It was an uneventful climb. For some reason I was out of breath merely a bit by the time I reached the top. Usually I’m panting like a lost soul desperate for water in the Sahara and wondering if I’m going to expire. And, as always, I was glad that my workout was quickly accomplished, this time in around a minute and a half. Not only am I lazy, but exercise bores me. Those are the main reasons why I settled on the stair-climbing regimen that has been part of my life since the late 1990s. Boom, boom, boom and each session is over.

When the idea came to me to climb stairs as an easy way, hopefully, to keep in halfway-decent shape and strengthen my cardio system, I was working in an office tower just outside of the heart of downtown Philadelphia. I pounded the stairs therein countless times until I retired from my job in 2009.

The top of stairwell

But I knew that I needed to maintain a minimal exercise program after saying goodbye to paid employment, and not too much later I found the solution. Hallelujah, I would continue to climb stairs because only a mile and a half from my suburban house was the Zipley parking garage, the newest and tallest of several parking garages surrounding Abington Hospital. I felt right at home at Zipley. Why not? In mid- 2010, just before beginning to ascend the Zipley stairs, I became a member of the AH family when I started two volunteer assignments at the hospital, assignments that I continue to perform to this day.

View from middle of stairwell

Well, there’s only so much you can say about stair-climbing and parking garages, right? Yes indeed, truer words never were written. I can sense more than one pair of eyes glazing over, and that includes mine. But before I bring this story to its natural conclusion, let me add that I’m somewhat in awe of people like Janet Sheridan who conscientiously exercise for several or more hours each week. Me, I’m an incredible slacker compared to them, as I devote about six or seven minutes weekly to stair climbing. Water finds its own level, as we all know. And that’s mine.

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94 thoughts on “The Stairs And I: An Exercise Story

  1. ccgoesdutch April 24, 2018 / 12:09 am

    keep on climbing! Studies show that small amounts of exercise are even better for the body and less trying then extended lengths of time. The pizza along the way may be a challenge. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Audrey Driscoll April 24, 2018 / 1:27 am

    Great idea! There’s a hospital parkade not too far from where I live, and I’ve actually thought about using its stairs for exercise. Unlike you, I haven’t actually done it, but I just might now.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Lynette d'Arty-Cross April 24, 2018 / 1:29 am

    She is a lovely writer – thanks for the shout-out. 🙂

    I’m not retired yet (about 5 or so years to go still) but I think I understand what you mean. I’m pretty active at work and I also try to get some exercise in but I’m like you – I have to make myself do something. I hope I don’t slack off a lot when I retire. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Still the Lucky Few April 24, 2018 / 1:38 am

    You and Janet—what a pair! I love you both, and never miss a story you post! I discovered ‘stair exercising’ a few years ago, and torture myself doing that during the winter, when the cold and rain drive me indoors. Not very enjoyable, but it does the job. Keep climbing, and stay healthy!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. barrydjd April 24, 2018 / 2:20 am

    Exercise. Yah. Most of mine comes from running 80 to 100 K a month. Then in the summer its hiking up westcoast mountains. A 1200 meter climb is still fairly easy even though I sweat a lot. However, stairs are dynamite. I think because they are so even they start to make my knees click. So I try to avoid them wherever possible except for The Chief where they are unavoidable. But I will think about you every time I pass a parking garage. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Suzanne [globalhousesitterX2] April 24, 2018 / 3:43 am

    I find climbing up easier than coming down, which is all dependent on how high the individual steps are. Gradual climbs are much preferable for the knees 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 24, 2018 / 1:31 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Suzanne.
      I know what you mean about descending. It’s not a problem on the stairs I use. But it can be tiring and tough on the knees on mountains.
      See you —

      Liked by 1 person

      • Suzanne [globalhousesitterX2] April 24, 2018 / 1:36 pm

        You are welcome ☺

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Annika Perry April 24, 2018 / 4:16 am

    Yay! 😀 135 steps is impressive and stairs are a good way to keep fit! Given the option I’ll take the stairs in car parks etc but otherwise love going for long walks to keep fit as well as Pilates. I’m wondering what sort of volunteer work you’re doing at the hospital?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 24, 2018 / 1:34 pm

      Hi Annika. On Mondays I help out in a unit that does a variety of operations. On Tuesdays I man the info desk in a medical office building that the hospital owns. To date, I enjoy both jobs.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. George April 24, 2018 / 8:05 am

    Is all this exercise an attempt to tone up your butt in response to all the requests for a photograph you received, following your post where you compared it to the moon?

    Liked by 2 people

  9. There’s an entire industry based on step aerobics, you’ve accomplished for free what many people pay a lot of money for! Walking is great exercise, I believe it’s good for both the body and the spirit. Keep walking!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 24, 2018 / 1:36 pm

      Hello Brad.
      Yup, I totally agree about walking. A nice hike in an interesting area can’t be beat.


  10. joyce hamilton April 24, 2018 / 8:29 am

    Whew!!! So many steps!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 24, 2018 / 1:37 pm

      Yeah, but it’s fairly easy once you get used to it.
      See you, Joyce. Enjoy the day.


  11. tylerus April 24, 2018 / 9:07 am

    LOL – hate climbing stairs. Would rather walk 5 miles than walk up even 10 steps. But it’s all good. To each his/her own!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 24, 2018 / 1:38 pm

      I understand. But for some reason this step-climbing routine of mine agrees with me pretty well.


  12. Deb April 24, 2018 / 9:19 am

    Good for you Neil. I like that these steps are enclosed, as in behind solid concrete walls rather than wide open and hovering as if they had no support. I don’t like heights and open stairwells terrify me. I still would prefer plan old walking, but with the sidewalks in my neighborhood sometimes it’s almost like climbing stairs.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 24, 2018 / 1:40 pm

      You probably wouldn’t mind the stairs in the parking garage that I wrote about. They’re sturdy!
      See you, Deb.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Laurie Graves April 24, 2018 / 9:30 am

    You go, Neil! Between walking and climbing those stairs I expect you’re all set when it comes to exercise. Took a look at Janet’s blog, and you are right. She is a fine writer.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Anabel Marsh April 24, 2018 / 12:20 pm

    I don’t have a specific staircase like this one, but I always take stairs rather than a lift where possible and I walk a lot too. Like you, I hate formal exercise! Oh, and we live in a tall, thin house so that helps.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Anabel Marsh April 24, 2018 / 12:27 pm

      Ha! Just read Janet’s piece and I like the bit about regular exercise only adding a few months to your life. Whether it is true or not I am hanging on to that as vindication.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah, Another Blogger April 24, 2018 / 1:45 pm

        Long, regimented exercise sessions aren’t for everyone (such as you and me, for example). But a nice, long walk is a good, enjoyable way to stretch the legs and keep fairly limber.

        Bye, Anabel. Be seeing you —

        Liked by 1 person

  15. JT Twissel April 24, 2018 / 2:26 pm

    Stair climbing is good exercise – I once read that Cary Grant didn’t believe in regimented exercise routines but he always took the stairs over an elevator. Hey, worked for him!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 24, 2018 / 2:58 pm

      And he got plenty of exercise in some of his movies — like when he was running from an airplane in North By Northwest!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. C C Cedras April 24, 2018 / 3:29 pm

    I have, in fact, repetitively climbed my OWN stairs during my not infrequent rehab regimens following injuries and surgeries. And the view is delightful. I should really make it a daily thing. I won’t even have to put on real clothes to do it! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 24, 2018 / 4:10 pm

      I’m glad I put a good thought into your head.

      Take care, CC. Thanks a lot for adding your comments. Appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Elizabeth M. Soltan April 24, 2018 / 4:04 pm

    Your essay gives a new twist to the phrase, “staircase wit”–the clever retort that comes to us late, as we climb the stairs to bed. Keep up the good work–writing as well as exercising.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 24, 2018 / 4:20 pm

      Liz, I often learn something when you add comments to my stories. I’d never heard the term “staircase wit” before. I googled it, so now I know!
      See ya —


  18. America On Coffee April 24, 2018 / 7:38 pm

    I shall go on a stairway search in car garages and buildings. Lots of inspiration here. Very nice share!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. sniderjerry April 24, 2018 / 8:16 pm

    On your next trip to McArthur, Ohio try Percelli’s Pizza – that’s my brother’s award winning shop.

    Rock on Neil – all the best, Jerry

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 24, 2018 / 8:33 pm

      You come from a pizza family! If I’m ever out that way I’ll visit your brother’s place.
      Thanks for stopping by, Jerry. Take care.


  20. Ann Coleman April 24, 2018 / 10:15 pm

    Walking is exercise, it just doesn’t feel like that because you enjoy where you are going. As for the stairs, heck yes, that counts! You rock!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Cindy April 25, 2018 / 12:19 am

    Kudos on mastering the stairs, Neil! If you need a higher goal to keep your motivation up, the 2019 Empire State Building Run-Up is in February!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 25, 2018 / 6:55 am

      It would take me about four days to get from the bottom to the top.


  22. Isabelle April 25, 2018 / 2:36 am

    I run regularly but I did stairs climbing a few times when I was on holiday in Shanghai and London, basically because the weather there wasn’t entirely reliable and the rain could come at anytime. It must be great exercise stair climbing in a building of 15-16 floors. I couldn’t lift the legs for days 😊 I enjoyed the post, as always. Thank you Neil. Take care, Isabelle

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 25, 2018 / 7:02 am

      Hello there. I hadn’t thought about that, but you’re absolutely right: stair climbing is something a person can do in bad weather.
      Thanks for adding to this essay, Isabelle. Enjoy the day —

      Liked by 1 person

      • Isabelle April 25, 2018 / 7:19 am

        And one more possible benefit relating to stair climbing. My chiropractor suggested that I should do more stair climbing as it was beneficial to my weak back. Have a good day too, Neil.

        Liked by 1 person

  23. Alyson April 25, 2018 / 4:34 am

    A good plan – In the office block I worked in until last year, there were only 3 floors, yet just about everyone took the lift. I made a point of going up and down the stairwell a few times a day to get some exercise – heading to the little kitchen for coffee, the stationery room etc. Then they made us paperless and kitchen-less so that we would never have to leave our workstations!! I fear for those who are still there – And, this was working for the Health Service.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. As much cake as you want April 25, 2018 / 8:07 am

    Nothing about stair climbing sounds or looks appealing – particularly the dim concrete steps – but then, I’m a walker too :-).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 25, 2018 / 8:37 am

      Yeah, the stairwell is no place to hang out in. But I’m there for only a few minutes each time.
      Thanks for dropping by. See you —

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Debra April 25, 2018 / 12:53 pm

    I think step-climbing as exercise has its ups and downs.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. cincinnatibabyhead April 25, 2018 / 1:56 pm

    Good one Neil (CB will pop over to Janets and have a look). As far as stairs go, a couple things came to mind and I’ll share one. Princess Faldas (CB’s daughter) bo is a fireman and he has a stair exercise where they have to be fully geared up and climb so many floors. So I was thinking, you being retired and the good guy you are, Volunteer Fire Depts are always looking for a few good me. You’re half way there with the stairs on your resume.
    I think I’ll take John Prine for a walk. You inspired me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 25, 2018 / 2:53 pm

      CB, if I went up those stairs with full gear on my back, within 30 seconds my time on Earth would be over! But, thanks for thinking of me!

      Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead April 25, 2018 / 3:04 pm

        You are a funny guy Neil. Thanks! I’m chuckling at that image of you all geared up.

        Liked by 1 person

  27. Fictionophile April 25, 2018 / 1:56 pm

    Haha Neil. I commend you for your ambitious stair-climbing and healthful activity. However…. couldn’t you have picked a more photogenic place to do it?

    Liked by 2 people

  28. The Arcane Nibbler April 25, 2018 / 5:45 pm

    I lived on the 8th floor of an old building in midtown Kansas City for many years. Frequently the elevator would break down, sometimes for weeks at a time and I had to walk up 8 flights (132 stairs) on a daily basis. I got used to it but these days I’d probably just camp out in the lobby rather than climb all those stairs at once.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. alhenry April 25, 2018 / 5:57 pm

    Well, Neil, I must say, your stairwell, as pictured here, is truly and undeniably a stairwell, and solid built.

    I ran daily for 20 years for the same reason you go walking–I loved everything about moving through the world, only at a slightly faster pace. But then the knees began to twinge, so I moved to the gym. On first thought, you might group me with other those exercise maniacs, Pelaton riders and the like, but I fully adhere to your philosophy of finding the least annoying means of keeping the old body pumping blood. I catch up on all kinds of things at the gym via TV while my legs whirr round and round: the news, baseball, HGTV. The news can be especially stimulating. Watching an interview with The Rump the other day, I looked down to see I had achieved 11 miles an hour–two miles over my normal speed. I wiped away the steam coming out of my ears and rowed to the Byrds for a cool down. Keep climbing those stairs. Keep reaching for the stars–or at least the top floor. Stay healthy, my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 25, 2018 / 7:40 pm

      Amy, Trump will do that to you! He’s built to annoy. He’s the worst.

      As for The Byrds: What a great band. Younger Than Yesterday, The Notorious Byrd Brothers, Sweetheart Of The Rodeo — those are among my all-time fave albums.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. dfolstad58 April 26, 2018 / 5:55 pm

    Thank you for the smiles and the memory that you jogged in this post. There was a time that I worked in the same building as my father. It was a special time and I shared my coffee brakes and my lunch breaks with my dad. He worked on the fifth floor and I worked on the 10th. Peri thank you for the smiles and the memory that you jogged in this post. There was a time that I worked in the same building as my father. It was a special time and I shared my coffee brakes and my lunch breaks with my dad. He worked on the fifth floor and I worked on the 10th. When we came to the end of our work break Which we invariably spent going for a walk, we always walked up the stairs to our respective floor. As I walked with the extra five floors and crawled out on the 10th floor I can still remember those hip muscles aching. It was a real blessing to spend that extra time with my Dad and I’ve told him so m it was a real blessing to spend that extra time with my dad and I’ve told him so more than once.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 26, 2018 / 6:37 pm

      Hello there. Many thanks for sharing your memories. You were lucky to have worked with your father. You made the most of those days.


  31. ellie894 April 26, 2018 / 6:53 pm

    My eyes did Not glaze over! I found this fun and encouraging. While I like to Do stuff – I do Not get happy go lucky over organized exercise…ugh. I commend you for your long term stair climbing adventure. So… for your next post will you mathematically sort out just how many stairs you’ve climbed since the start…. Have a great weekend 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 26, 2018 / 7:40 pm

      Hi Ellie.
      Listen, I’ll be happy to leave that calculation to you! But please don’t tell me the answer, because I might faint if I find out.
      See you —

      Liked by 1 person

  32. selizabryangmailcom April 26, 2018 / 11:37 pm

    I can’t read all the responses (well, I could, but there’s 71 of them!) so I’m not sure if anyone mentioned yet that going up stairs is a really special kind of exercise. Even people who jog or do other cardio regularly can start walking up stairs and start getting out of breath. It’s just a completely specific set of muscles reactions with a specific affect on the body unlike anything else. Looks like you picked the right one!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 27, 2018 / 7:20 am

      Hey there, Stacey. I guess it’s almost by chance that I do this. If I hadn’t worked in an office tower years ago it wouldn’t have occurred to me.
      Always good to hear from you. Thanks a lot for adding your thoughts.


  33. Aunt Beulah April 28, 2018 / 12:16 pm

    Wow, Neil. thanks for the kind mention; it sent quite a bit of traffic my way. I appreciate it. And after reading your followup column — which had me giggling more than once — and all the comments, I’m thinking about adding some stair flights to my exercise regime. I wonder if walking up steep hills and/or hiking could be a substitute for actual stairs. There are more hills than buildings with stairs where I live.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 28, 2018 / 2:01 pm

      Hi there, Janet. Steep hills will do the job! I very occasionally walk up the hills in my neighborhood in lieu of the stairs at the parking garage.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. tanjabrittonwriter April 28, 2018 / 3:49 pm

    And all this time you have been taking credit for only 130 steps, Neil. These extra five steps, over the course of time, probably will add several more years to your youthful life! Keep it up. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  35. viewfromoverthehill April 28, 2018 / 9:41 pm

    Your lovely photos of the gorgeous stairwells just overwhelmed me Neil: I’m recuperating. I just heard our local museum wants to sponsor a show of your artistic talents. Right on! Muriel

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 28, 2018 / 10:57 pm

      I’m honored! I’ve always believed that there is a shortage of stairwell photographs in Western civilization.


  36. pjlazos May 2, 2018 / 12:51 pm

    Stairs are a great form of exercise. Good for you!

    Liked by 2 people

  37. theresagreen May 7, 2018 / 6:03 am

    I’ll think of you hauling yourself up those stairs next time I’m walking up to the summit of one my local hills with views to the mountains and out over the sea…..!

    Liked by 2 people

  38. Browsing the Atlas May 9, 2018 / 7:39 pm

    I love to walk, too. It rarely feels like exercise. I make it habit to climb stairs, too, and that DOES feel like exercise. But I remind myself that I’m lucky I can climb the stairs. Who knows? There may come a day when I can’t, so I’m grateful (and out of breath) every time I do.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 9, 2018 / 7:53 pm

      Hi, and thanks a lot for stopping by.
      I know what you mean. Even though I don’t love climbing stairs, I’m thankful that I have the ability to do it.
      See you —


  39. lievelee May 9, 2018 / 8:38 pm

    I’m with you on the stair climbing, although for my sins, I love cycling!!! And I regularly cycle to the beach in Vietnam… 32 km there and back. But as I enjoy cycling, the exercise element is not what keeps me going, it is witnessing the daily life unfolding by the roadside. The fact that it is keeps me fit is just a bonus… And climbing stairs?? I live on the 5th floor of the teachers’ residence and my classroom is on the first floor… Being forgetful and keeping resources in my room rather than in my classroom, I tend to go up and down several times a day. Happy climbing!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 9, 2018 / 9:31 pm

      Lieve, you maintain a hell of a pace. You’re getting way more exercise than most people. I tip my hat to you.


  40. aprilswopegreene May 12, 2018 / 2:31 pm

    This title alone is worth a like and a comment! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 12, 2018 / 3:37 pm

      Hello to my blogging friend in Brooklyn. Thanks for stopping by —


  41. grimspound May 21, 2018 / 1:56 pm

    Loved this, Neil! I feel exactly the same way about exercise. We spend the summer at a cottage in Canada my dad built. It requires 65 steps to come and go and that, with a walk in the woods, does it for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 21, 2018 / 3:21 pm

      Glad to hear from you, Dianne. The stairs and a walk in the woods definitely is enough!
      Have fun at the cabin this year (if you go).

      Liked by 1 person

  42. winderstairs August 3, 2018 / 7:11 am

    The clever retort that comes to us late, as we climb the stairs to bed. Keep up the good work–writing as well as exercising.
    Embankment Stair

    Liked by 1 person

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