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DFCS Workers Walking the Stairs for Health's Sake: How My Walks Caught On

September 4, 2013

Originally published March 19, 2012

As a full-time employee of the Georgia Department of Human Services, Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS), mother, and student, my days and nights are extremely busy. Often times, hectic lifestyles and stress go hand in hand along with a variation of other health ailments. Due to my packed schedule, I was bothered that I did not have time to work out to achieve my fitness goals. To my astonishment, I was wrong.

In DFCS, the stairs were literally staring at me each day on the 18th floor as I walked toward the elevator. I realized one day that I had the time and just needed to incorporate exercise into my work schedule. That's how I began to walk the stairs and invited other DFCS workers to join me for the Get Fit Club.

I work on the 18th floor at 2 Peachtree Street in Atlanta, which is the starting point, and walk to the 28th floor, and then back down to the 18th. This amount of walking certainly gets the heart rate up and the blood pumping. With each step, you increase the muscle movement and toning in your legs and hamstring. Going up the stairs is a way to raise the heart rate and walking down will gradually bring it back down to a resting rate.

I began to invite more of my colleagues, and to my surprise they were eager to join me with similar goals. Now we try to walk the stairs together, but find ourselves still taking the challenge alone if our schedule doesn't permit us to walk together as a team.

It's great to do it alone or in a group! In a group you may experience the encouragement to push a little further when you don't want to. At about the 5th flight, you can feel your muscles stretching and your heart pounding.  Occasionally, you can hear someone encouraging the team to "keep moving" or "we can do this" as we walk toward our fitness goals. When taking the stairs alone you can have a moment to yourself to clear your thoughts and decompress. Every other week, we add two more flights of stairs.  We're currently walking from floors 18th to 32nd, two times a day.

I am not alone in my fitness goals.  Roxanne Dearro is also a member of the get fit club. "I decided that I was tired of talking about my clothes not fitting and not being physically fit," said Dearro. "So I decided that I had to take ownership of my situation. I started changing my eating habits. But something was missing. I needed to exercise. When Valerie Parker asked me to join the Get Fit Club by walking the steps twice a day, I took advantage of the invitation. My personal goal is to lose three dress sizes. With determination and motivation from club members, this is possible," said Dearro, ICPC Program Assistant.

During her work experience and internship at DFCS, Dorethea Durden joined the DFCS Get Fit Club and she too walked the stairs for health reasons. "I also walked the stairs to become fit, to make my lungs stronger, and to feel better about myself as a whole.  I like the person that I am becoming as I improve my self-image," added Durden, with DFCS Work Experience.

Some benefits of taking this challenge are toned legs with muscle definition, daily cardio, stress relief, and our personal favorite, a positive attitude. I'll be the first to tell you that I have days where I don't look forward to taking that walk.  However, I'll also attest to the feeling of triumph when I reach the top and know that I accomplished my fitness goal for that day. It's very symbolic for me and the other team members. When I reach the top of the stairs, I think about the difficulty of getting there, and smile at the fact that I made it with my DFCS team. This contributes to the positive attitude for me to keep pressing on in all of my goals - as a full time worker, mother and student.

I'm starting to see more and more people on the stairs. We're all interested in becoming healthy for life!