Steps to better health

Ainsley Zeisner, manager of mail services, has been stair climbing for a couple of years. She was first to complete the Healthy Workplace's summer challenge to Take the Stairs. (Susan Hickman Photo)

Three Carleton employees climbed Mount Everest this summer – well, the equivalent of it, that is.

It took Healthy Workplace co-ordinator Kristi Wells by surprise after the initiative designed a Take the Stairs Passport and challenged the Carleton community to “travel around the world” without leaving the campus. The game plan? Climb the equivalent number of floors contained by eight different structures around the world, such as the Eiffel Tower or the Empire State Building. For example, climbing the stairs in the Dunton Tower three and a half times is the equivalent of walking to the top of the 81-storey Eiffel Tower.

“I didn’t imagine that anyone would finish all of them,” says Wells, who registered more than 60 people for the summer challenge.

Ainsley Zeisner, manager of mail services, worked stair climbing into her daily routine a couple of years ago, and was the first to climb all eight challenges, hoofing up and down 2,852 floors, higher than the equivalent of scaling Mount Everest.

Kim Holtz and Jennalee Black also completed the challenge before the end of August.

The Healthy Workplace program advocates stair climbing to strengthen leg muscles and aerobic capacity, increase bone density and life expectancy, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, and burn calories. Walking up six flights of stairs a day can result in an 18-lb weight loss over a year.

An initially reluctant participant from last year’s stair challenge, Angela Burns, had nothing but praise for the program.

“Why are we doing this?” was Burns’ first reaction to heading to the top of Dunton Tower via the stairwell. When she reached the 23rd floor sweaty and out of breath, Burns felt she had accomplished a great feat.

After three months of the Dunton stairs exercise, Burns said the physical and social results were noticeable and lasting: “Clothes fitting so much nicer, three belt notches down, a huge improvement in cardio and leg strength enhanced.”

This year, Amanda Goth, executive assistant to the university librarian, joined the challenge for the first time with a group of colleagues “to get more exercise, to get away from my desk and to spend some time with co-workers.”

The group of seven were just shy of hitting the 700-floor mark by the end of August.

“Since Dunton Tower is right next to the library, it was easy to whip over and climb the stairs, and it only took 15 minutes,” says Goth.

Carleton’s Healthy Workplace follows the national standard set by Excellence Canada, a non-profit group that offers a four-step certification process to help organizations implement and maintain a healthy workplace.

Carleton has achieved Level I of the Excellence Canada Progressive Excellence Program (PEP) model and is currently working towards the second level of certification.

As the school year ramps up in September, the program has scheduled a host of activities to reflect the theme, Coping Well With Stress, including dodge ball and badminton leagues and a free Yoga Among the Art session in the Art Gallery on Sept. 30. The Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) will also offer an in-depth workshop on coping well with stress.

On the last weekend of September, Carleton staff, professors and students can join in a Clean Up the Campus event to beautify the environment while benefitting physically and socially.

In October, which is Healthy Workplace Month, a dietician will lead a session on how to identify foods with high salt/sodium content. Other events include work-life balance and financial management workshops.

For more information about the Healthy Workplace program, visit:

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Susan Hickman

By Susan Hickman

For nearly four decades, journalist Susan Hickman has written about every imaginable subject for sundry newspapers and magazines in Canada and abroad, as well as for CBC TV and CBC Radio. She has also managed various publications, including academic newspapers and technology magazines, and was recently commissioned to write a guide for foreign missions serving in Canada. Currently, she is working on a couple of personal memoirs.

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