If there’s one thing – one small, barely-noticable, everyday thing – that makes me simultaneously furious, sad, frustrated, and concerned for the future of humanity, it’s this:
People standing on the right.
The right is where you stand on the escalator. It’s the place where the vast majority of people stand: to the point where, in London, you’ll often see a queue to stand on the right while one or two brave souls nip up on the left.
According to the calories in/calories out model of obesity, this makes some sort of sense. Even if you climbed the escalator at Angel, one of the longest in Europe, you’d barely burn 9 calories, the equivalent of a single gram of fat. Sadly, fitness – and life – are not simply about calories. Climbing stairs is resistance exercise, and resistance exercise has a host of benefits. For starters, there’s evidence that even a minute of it can turn on your GLUT4 hormone, making the latte you drink as you walk to the office more predisposed to be stored as muscle than fat. Also, resistance exercise has been shown to:
- Improve mood
- Reduce stress
- Strengthen the immune system
- Prevent strokes and osteoperosis
- Fight dementia
- Prevent muscle loss
- Increase sex drive
That’s a lot of benefits from doing something that requires literally one single, tiny change in the way you conduct your entire life. Whenever people tell me they can’t find the time to go the gym, I wonder how many of them stand on the right. When I jog past people standing on the right, I wonder how many can’t go to the gym.
And I’ll go you one better. I understand that not everyone can walk up the right – some people are ill, some are already wracked with pain, some are just having hard days in jobs that are much worse than mine. But generally, standing on the right is just indicative of the worst sort of attitude you can have. Of taking the path of least resistance, putting in the minimum amount of effort, and being lazy because it’s easy. It’s not a good habit to get into.
So walk up the god-damned stairs today. And if you already do, sprint up the god-damn stairs. Then convince someone else to do the same.
HOMEWORK: As above.