Cold Outside? Dr. Oz Tells Fitness Participants to Take Their Wo - FOX 32 News Chicago

Cold Outside? Dr. Oz Tells Fitness Participants to Take Their Work Outs Up Stairs


With winter weather setting in for the long haul, it's sometimes tough to get motivated to go to the gym. Dr. Mehmet Oz is well aware of the problem, but he says Chicagoans actually have an exercise advantage over a lot of other people in cold climates. Because so many of us live or work in high rise buildings, all we have to do, he says, is take our work outs step-by-step, literally.

Both FOX Chicago's Special Projects reporter Mark Saxenmeyer and meteorologist Amy Freeze, along with the participants in our year-long health and fitness challenge, decided to heed the good doctor's advice with a climb to the clouds at the 49-story Presidential Towers in the South Loop.

There seemed to be a little friendly competition in the air.

"You cannot beat me," Freeze responded to Saxenmeyer's challenge. "I guarantee it!"

Then she smiled and mouthed the words "He's going down!"

"See you at the top!" Saxenmeyer responded, and with a group shout of, "Go!" they all began their climb.

Up, up and away. How hard could stepping up a few stairs really be, right?

"I've never done a stair climb in my life," said Deb Lawrence, a FOX Chicago viewer and health and fitness challenge participant. "I've had to walk down 18 flights in a fire but never up."

This climb all came about at the suggestion of Dr. Oz, when the quest began to help FOX staffers and viewers eat right and exercise more nearly one year ago.

"Take these high rises behind me," Dr. Oz said at Navy Pier last January during a visit to Chicago. "How many of you work in high rises or buildings like that?"

A few health and fitness challenge participants raised their hands.

"Good!" said the doctor. "Perfect! So instead of taking the elevator, you take the steps to work and you've got your steps in. You actually haven't put it off until the end of the day. You've incorporated it into your life."

Well, it turns out stepping up a few stairs can indeed be a bit tough.

A few flights in and the panting began, but the participants kept positive.

"You feel that, totally," said Lily Borich a FOX Chicago viewer and health and fitness challenge participant, as she heaved herself upwards.

Freeze, a veteran stair climber, had warned the group before they started.

"No matter what kind of shape you're in, if you're in good shape or not so good shape it's always difficult," Freeze advised. "Climbing stairs puts you at immediate oxygen deprivation. So anybody over the first couple of flights you're going to lose your breath. It's natural."

"Forty-nine flights, six minutes, 32 seconds," Freeze declared when she reached the top first.

FOX Chicago News Senior Web Producer Kirsten Miller finished next, at 7:40.

"Nice!" Freeze congratulated her with a high five.

At 11 minutes and 15 seconds Saxenmeyer made it to the 49th floor.

"I would have been up a lot sooner but I had to wait for her," said Saxenmeyer with a laugh as he and Borich reached the top.

As the group grew, they cheered on each new arrival and debriefed each other with their experiences.

"I'm winded," Freeze said. "I could feel it in my chest for sure."

"But you're not even sweating," Saxenmeyer said to her, commenting on her "flawless" make-up.

"No," Freeze laughed. "I am sweating. It's difficult."

"I felt like a smoker," Miller said. "My lungs were like, 'ahhhhh'!"

After they were all done, the group decided once wasn't enough. They considered repeating the climb.

"Absolutely!" Borich said. "It feels good!"

So round two began all the way back on the first floor.

"Oh oh oh put that down!" Borich said when a FOX photographer found her resting in the stairwell.

The second time was a little bit harder. Still, many people improved their time.

Freeze finished in just 6 minutes and 5 seconds. Miller was not far behind with 6:49.

"Faster than the first time," Freeze congratulated her. "Good job!"

In just under nine minutes Saxenmeyer reached floor 49 for the second time, and just like each of his fellow climbers was greeted with cheers of support.

The Presidential Towers sponsors the "Fight for Air Climb" every March. You can take the stairs up all 49 stories in all four of the towers to help raise money for the American Lung Association and of course, get healthy yourself.

"All right we did it and we can check that off the list, and next time we'll climb a mountain," laughed Saxenmeyer.

Either that, or take the elevator.

Mark Saxenmeyer welcomes comments, story ideas and tip at

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