3 Ways to Get Your Winter Steps In

Duke employees find ways to stay warm and continue workouts

(From left) Nancy Mason and Terrie Harris walk in Duke South. Mike Garrison climbs the steps of University Tower, and a runner jogs along the East Campus wall.
(From left) Nancy Mason and Terrie Harris walk in Duke South. Mike Garrison climbs the steps of University Tower, and a runner jogs along the East Campus wall.

Up and down. Up and down.

Those are the only two directions Mike Garrison is heading for the next 45 minutes on his lunch break at University Tower. For the past five winters, Garrison has been climbing and descending the tower’s 17 floors to get in his workout.

“This building is an indoor jungle gym,” said Garrison, video producer for Duke Health Marketing and Communications. “Climbing the stairs is super intense and gets my juices flowing for the rest of the day.”

He’s one of many Duke employees who have found a way to get steps in during the cold, dark winter months.

“I think there are so many opportunities to fit in a walk, whether it’s walking to a coworker rather than calling them, or finding a lunch spot farther away,” said Taylor Leach Ingersoll, fitness specialist for LIVE FOR LIFE. “It’s all about being intentional in finding the time to get up and move.”

Just in time for the Get Moving Challenge, the 10-week fitness competition organized by LIVE FOR LIFE, Duke’s employee wellness program, here’s how you can meet – or beat – your steps goal. 

Walking the halls of Duke South

Nancy Mason (left) and Terrie Harris walk about two miles a day through Duke South.
For nearly 16 years Terrie Harris, staff assistant for the Department of Pathology, and Nancy Mason, therapy aide in Audiology, have been walking and talking their way through the lower levels of Duke South.

They don’t often have a set path but over 45 minutes, they’ll walk two miles through the zones of Duke Hospital South.

“It’s time for us to catch up and talk about things outside of work,” Harris said. “I find out what Nancy’s up to, what recipes she’s cooking, what shows she’s been watching. “

Harris has always been a big walker and said she needs the time to step away from her desk, plus there’s one other thing that keeps her moving.

“Nancy is a big talker,” she said with a laugh.

Climbing stairs

Mike Garrison does five to six laps on the University Tower stairs about twice a week in the winter.
When Mike Garrison, video producer for Duke Health Marketing and Communications, started climbing the University Tower stairs, he would often do two to three laps up and down the 17 floors. Now he does five to six laps and makes sure to never grab onto the handrail for support.

“I’m starting to recognize scratches on certain stairs,” he said.

Over in the North Pavilion on Erwin Road, Adam DeVore noticed a small community of people who also take the main stairwell to their floor. DeVore, an assistant professor of medicine, walks the eight flights of stairs to and from his office every day.

“It’s hard for me to work out in the middle of the day, so this is how I try and fit in what I can,” he said. “I’m trying to be as healthy as I can.”

Layer up and brave the cold around East Campus

One lap around the East Campus wall is about 1.7 miles.
While Phaedra Kelly doesn’t enjoy the cold, she can still be found jogging around East Campus on her lunch break almost every day.    

As a program coordinator for Duke Continuing Studies, Kelly’s office is in Smith Warehouse, a short walk from the wall surrounding East Campus. For more than a year, she’s been doing about 1.5 laps around the wall, or about 2.5 miles.

“I had gotten a little out of shape and decided to commit to moving every day,” Kelly said. “Exercise reduces my feelings of anxiety and winter doldrums. I typically don’t have that afternoon crash that I use to have.”

Kelly keeps her mind off the frigid temperatures by enjoying the people watching on her jog.

“There are people walking their dogs or pushing their kids in strollers,” she said. “I really like it because it’s very much a resource that’s used by the community.”