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Often overlooked or shunned outright, they’re usually there, but for most people, they lead to nowhere. Stairs have a thankless job nowadays. All you need to do is observe people’s behavior. Watch what most folks do when a flight of stairs is located right next to an escalator.

Inventor Elisha Otis started a company that in 1857 installed the first elevator for passengers*. In 1892, Jesse Reno obtained a patent for an escalator and partnered with Otis’ company in 1899 to create a commercial elevator**. Both the elevator and the escalator would go on to proliferate by the millions throughout the world. They’ve allowed mankind to construct spectacularly tall buildings, whose highest levels are readily accessible to anyone. Few would argue that it hasn’t been a net plus for society.

But there’s a flipside. Elevators, escalators, modern transportation, and office work have mitigated the need for people to be physically robust in any way. A lot of us are clunky, chunky, and totally out of shape, and taking a flight of stairs up one or two stories is, for many, a major physical undertaking to be avoided. But it’s not good to be physically weak and struggle in situations that require just modest strength and stamina.

Whenever you see a flight of stairs, see an opportunity. Get in the habit of bypassing the elevator or escalator whenever you can and take the stairs instead. It’ll keep your legs and hips strong and increase your heart rate a little. It’s a simple habit whose benefits add up in the long run. It requires no training, equipment, cost, or extra time. If something so easy feels hard to you, that should tell you something.

Sayonara until next time.

*www.champion-elevator.com, Elevator History: How Elevators Have Changed; www.elevators.com, A Brief History Of Elevators
**www.thoughtco.com, History of the Escalator

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