Friday, June 10, 2011

Walking for Health

So, I'm back and hopefully posting every weekday mornings, which would be evenings in the States. I spent the last few months on an adventure getting to Japan, where I will be living for the next 3 years.

Because of this I've done a great deal of walking this last month. Cars from the States don't meet the standards for Japan, so we sold one and stored our cars. This leaves relying on public transportation and foot-power.

Now in Japan public transportation is great. There's usually a train or bus that will take you within a 10 to 20 minute walk of your destination. From our new house the bus to the train is about a minute walk. That's all nice and good, but we spent about a month living in temporary housing where public transportation wasn't as great.

This meant a lot of walking. Which only made we realize that walking is one of those things we should do more in the States. Hey, I've done it, driven the car just a parking lot over to go to another store. I could have, and should have walked. It would have been healthier and taken only a few more minutes, if that.

Similarly, I lived close enough to a grocery store, as most of us do. If all I needed was one bag of groceries, I could have walked the 10 minutes to get them. Again, it would have been healthier.

I understand that time is part of the issue. Americans are horribly impatient, and walking takes time and thus patience. I've had to figure in how much extra time I needed because I was walking to and back from the grocery store for the last month.

Then again, this was a reason to get exercise, and do needed errands at the same time. Killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. That extra time wasn't wasted, it was useful.

I just wonder if America would have less of an obesity problem if we made people walk to anything less than five minutes walk away. If walking was part of our lives would we be healthier?

Actually, they've done studies (which I should find and discuss later) and people who live in the downtown of larger cities often have lower average weights. Could that be because in a large city walking is easier than driving. Because with good public transportation, like in the cities of New York, Chicago and DC to name a few, people tend to just walk that five minutes from the station to where they're going?

So, the next time all you need is milk and bread from the store just down the block, take the extra time and walk. Next week when you need to take your kid to the elementary school just a few blocks over, why don't the two of you walk together there. The next time you want to go a few buildings over for lunch, walk to get the food. And the next time you're going two stores down in a strip mall, leave the car parked and walk there. That extra time walking may very well help with taking off the pounds and making you a healthier person.