Let our neighborhoods be our gyms by mattsteinglass
July 30, 2008, 4:23 pm
Filed under: Health, Transportation

Recently, in a span of 3 weeks, I went from being somewhat out of shape to being reasonably in shape. I lost about 1.5 kilos, my posture improved, my skin got healthier. What exercise regime did I follow to accomplish this? I stayed in a rental house in the Netherlands for 3 weeks. In other words, I carried lots of stuff around and rode a bicycle about 10 km a day, just in the normal course of living.

Last summer, in a span of about 4 weeks, the same transformation occurred. What exercise regime did I follow to accomplish that? I stayed at my parents’ apartment in Manhattan. In other words, I carried lots of stuff around and walked about 6 km a day, just in the normal course of living.

All of this is by way of response to the new Johns Hopkins study suggesting 86 percent of Americans could be obese by 2030. As Ezra Klein says in response, “if we stopped subsidizing corn (and thus, high fructose corn syrup), sugar, meat, soybeans, and related foods, and put that money instead towards subsidizing fruits and vegetables, towards increasing the accessibility of healthful food, towards making cities more walkable, towards putting calorie information on menus, you could probably make a dent.” Making cities more walkable and bikeable (bikable?) is huge. When you live in places like that, you lose weight and become healthier without even trying. And as someone who’s basically lazy and lacking in willpower, let me tell you, I like things that make my life better without me even trying.

Add: here’s a link to my post explaining the utterly different and smart-planning-heavy way the Dutch lay out their streets and various other transit systems.

3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I lost 25 pounds without trying the first 3 months after Imoved to Manhattan in the 1970’s. I remember the surprise of noting my clothes getting looser, adn then seeing myself in my parent’s mirror on a visit home.

I also lost 9 lbs in Italy last summer, again doing nothing other than living like a Roman.

Comment by TBTAM

Quite timely post since MSNBC just had this:

(Here’s the start of the article)

Heavy? Your neighborhood may be to blame
Those built before 1950 help keep you skinnier by encouraging walking

It could be your neighborhood that’s making you fat — or keeping you slender.

A new study found that the year your neighborhood was built may be just as important as diet and exercise for shedding pounds. Those who live in neighborhoods built before 1950 are trimmer than their counterparts who reside in more modern communities, the study reported.

“The older neighborhoods had a reduced level of obesity because they were generally built with the pedestrian in mind and not cars,” said Ken Smith, a co-author of the study and professor in the department of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah.

Comment by Keith

Amen Brudda,

The Finns made some of these systemic changes in the 70s and have seen a 60 % decline in heart disease mortality since 1970.

Health promotion / disease prevention without buying a gym membership, bariatric surgery or popping Lipitor tabs.


Comment by DR

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: