On Treadmills, Stationary Bikes, Stairs and Elevators

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 48 seconds

I hate treadmills. But surprisingly, I love stationary bikes. Why is that?

Well, what a treadmill does is it is a way to keep walking and walking and go nowhere. No matter how fast you go, no matter how hard you try, no matter how long you do it, you’re still always in the same exact spot. Walking in nature, in the outdoors, however, is a nurturing experience. Even walking in a crowded polluted street, is at least productive, you are getting somewhere! Maybe not so nurturing but USEFUL. Even walking inside our own homes, as I did during the pandemic for exercise, is still something you can do something useful with, like take something from one place to another at home. So yeah, I love walking, but not on treadmills. In the UK, when I used to go to the gym regularly, I used to do a circuit in the gym, then leave the gym and walk back to the downtown area (a good 15-30 mins) where I could get a bus back home. Walking buy a river with beautiful greenery. It didn’t feel like more effort after exercise. It was just walking. Something that comes naturally and improves wellbeing without feeling like an artificial effort. Walking has additional benefits: better for the environment than riding a car, an opportunity to meet people along the way or make it a conversational walk with friends. I have also recently gotten into virtual walking meetings where I walk while we talk. Walking is awesome.

You would think bike riding is the same, or similar. It also can be good for wellbeing. Except I never learned how to ride a bike without training wheels as a kid, and I’m a coward that way, I never learned. So when  I get on an exercise bike, I enjoy it because it allows me to make this enjoyable movement (cycling) without taking the risk of riding a bike I don’t know how to balance. Of course biking in nature would be superior. Of course biking can be productive to run errands. Of course it is also good for the environment. But since I can’t do it, I’m happy with the stationary bike and the exercise I can get without additional benefits.

Now for getting up from one place to a higher place, there are stairs, escalator, elevators. With stairs, you get exercise and you get to experience different levels along the way, you may stop to wonder. It can be exhausting and time consuming. I’m getting sweaty just thinking of it. But when something is one or two levels up, I prefer to take stairs when I can. Escalators are good when stairs and elevators aren’t immediately available, like in malls. Elevators… I love the glass elevators where you can see everything as you go up! The ones that don’t have these… you just find yourself almost “teleported” from one place to another with no knowledge of what is happening between them. No knowledge of the landscape at all. I guess we have learned not to care. And not to feel bad that by taking elevators we get somewhere quicker and with less effort than people taking stairs. Because we think everyone has a choice of elevator or stairs, but they don’t always. Well, on my campus they used to give special passes to certain people to take elevators (faculty, staff, people with disabilities, but not students), but I think they stopped this.

Now here is the thing. Look at your life. Where in your life are you on a treadmill, where no matter how hard you try, you find yourself in the same place over and over?

Where in your life do you find yourself constantly climbing stairs while others ride escalators or elevators that you don’t have access to? Are you being asked to climb spiral stair casee that make you dizzy (inspired by the feature image btw). Are you invited to the elevator then being asked to stop at every floor and wait before you can go up again as other people get on and off? Did you mistakenly ride that elevator that only goes up to a limit and you don’t know where the other elevator is, the one that goes all the way to the top?

Who is controlling your access to the elevator?

And, honestly, when is a stationary bike actually a good option, and you’re truly satisfied with going nowhere because the joy of bike riding is enough?

Featured image if spiral staircase by jplenio from Pixabay

11 thoughts on “On Treadmills, Stationary Bikes, Stairs and Elevators

  1. Fab piece Maha. The bits about the teleporting elevators that mean you miss out on the changing landscape particularly resonated – lovely if you have a choice but what if you have to use the elevator without choice?

  2. For recreation As a grownup I prefer walking to cycling. I can choose my own pace and this gives me the opportunity to take in the things I see as I walk. Sometimes the opportunity to stop and talk to a neighbour and ask how they are. Slowing the pace can give time to think.

  3. lovely post Maha. During lock down so many people were cycling on the routes I use I stopped! But I did do a bit more running and a lot more walking. I’m lucky to have choice and flexibility and do enjoy standing still at times too.

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