This question comes from my bailiwick, transportation planning. It begins with this interesting article about mapping obesity rates and driving patterns:
The article acknowledges the limitations on what we can conclude from the results of the mapping (the refrain we often see here: correlation does not equal causation). But I do find the correlation itself pretty interesting. The article's comments seem thoughtful and civil (so far), with one commenter raising the issue of food environment/quality. This is on my mind as a new Wal-Mart Supercenter opens on Chicago's south side, to much fanfare for it's offering of "healthier" food choices to people living in urban food deserts.
I'm interested in exploring the connection between a paleo lifestyle and transportation choices/options. I am not personally a car owner, and choose active transportation most of the time: biking, walking, or transit (which also requires significant daily walking). Whenever I'm hauling a 24# pale of cat litter and another 20# of food home from the store on foot, I admit to a little smug "this is paleo exercise" self-satisfaction. But I live in a dense urban area with mass transit options--something much of America does not enjoy.
I'm curious if anyone here does factor transportation choice into their paleo lifestyles. Have you replaced driving your car for walking, for example? How about shopping on foot and hauling heavy groceries as part of a functional exercise/natural movement program? With acknowledgment of barriers like extreme distances, physical disability, jobs that require driving, etc., would you consider ditching the gym membership and making transportation one of your primary forms of healthy exercise?
I have a grocery store that is a 2mi round-trip from my home. This morning I needed coffee, and instead of simply driving there, I rode my bike. Because I didn't want to hang my bike up, I ended up leaving it out and used it to ride down to another shop a few hours later (I work from home about 25% of the time). At the office lately, the weather has been beautiful so even though I have to drive (non-pedestrian bridge that is 8mi long between my office and me), I typically either walk anywhere I need to go to eat (very rare as I pack lunch most days), or just spend my lunch hour walking a mile or two just to get out and soak up some sun.
I buy groceries in cloth bags, specifically so I can balance two bags on my handlebars for the ride home...
I live and work in a moderately urban area with very shoddy mass transit (Tampa Bay area of Florida).
I have been considering mapping out a mass-transit schedule so I can reduce my driving, mostly because I have a very sedentary job in IT and really need a cause for more mobility. All of the buses here now feature bike racks.
Paleo has nothing to do with my transportation choices as I've always been active so it has always been a mix.
I live in NY so it's:
When I lived out of the country, Mexico/Central America is was walking or bus. I grew up in Washington State so owned a car, but walked or used my bicycle most of the time. Car was how I got to the mountains or went on trips and such.
Getting a car now is a huge treat, I actually really love to drive, so just for rando adventures out of town, which means fastest car possible with all the goodies and stuff. Like.. flying a plane with all the gadgets and lights. Thanks Zipcar! Zooooom!
EDIT ---> To address the "transportation as a primary form of healthy exercise", no. I have a dog I chase after, in addition to tromping the concret jungle here. That's just a way of life. Just natural day to day stuff. Working out is something completely different - to me. Like.. crushed ice (working out) in an RC Cola (transportation). Combined it just makes it all better :)
Having gone from living on a small campus where walking or busses sufficed to living in New York City, I have never owned a car. I personally prefer to walk, and walk barefoot whenever I can (my only pair of shoes are Vibrams, to boot). Being in grad school, I spend a lot of time sitting at a desk. So I stand at my desk when I can.
Like a lot of the answers above, exercise for me is something different, but related. Exercise makes me stronger so that I can continue to not use transportation, and/or still be active in my studio classes.
Just my two cents.
I first noticed the effect of walking while living in urban France 10 years ago. I had a car, but it was easier and more interesting to walk everywhere through the badly planned labyrinth. While making no attempt to control my eating, and without a scale, the weight fell off and I became thinner in fingers, face and waistline. Back in the US I gained it all back and more, but for the last 5 years I've resumed doing it, and now weigh about 25 lbs less than my lowest weight in France. I can't avoid using mechanized transport, but I make every attempt to minimize it. Besides the weight loss there are large CV benefits, notably lower systolic blood pressure and much higher HDL (high 70's, vs 35 when I was sedentary).
Not quite paleo, but I did this for a few years, way before I started low carbing--or even knew what paleo was.
I was carless--couldn't afford to get mine fixed or buy a new one. So I was using the bus to get to work--and on weekends the route would end 2 miles short of the workplace. I got a lot of exercise just getting myself to work on time!
Then, when I switched to a branch that didn't have that problem, I found I was still getting plenty of exercise: walking the 10 minutes(!) to work, to and from bus routes for the shopping, hauling home the groceries in one of those personal shopping carts.
That all stopped after I met my hubby and we had our "mid-life surprise" baby. We spent her first year doing a combination of bus and rides from family. Since we do a lot of bulk shopping, though, this became more and more impractical, and we wound up getting a good used car.
Nowadays my walking is usually down to the nature trail a few blocks behind our house. But I miss the bus rides, and intend to get the now-toddler out on the bus again as soon as possible. She's just at that barely-manageable age where I shudder at the idea of doing any shopping that way, but there are other errands we could undertake.
The connection to nature (and to your surroundings in general) that you get from walking to and from a bus stop beats the "car" experience all hollow. As long as I'm stuck in a city, I will scramble to give myself and the kiddo that connection any way I can!
Paleo has nothing to do with my transportation choices. Whether or not to use a car is mostly due to other factors such as terrain, weather, the city's zoning regulations and poorly-coordinated public transportation systems. I don't belong to any gym and most of my activity is from LHT, REAL things, not chunks of iron in the garage. I think the linked article is unfortunate, since I am of the belief that "something" causes both obesity and inactivity. Eventually, people get so old, fat and frail that even going somewhere in a car is difficult, much less hopping on a two-wheeled bike and navigating hills to get their grandkids to school. I cringe any time I hear making something "walkable" because that usually makes it inaccessible for a large chunk of the population.
If I am not allowed to have a corner store in my neighborhood, I have to get in the car and go to a center. If my city won't allow a Walmart nearby because they have designated it neighborhood mixed-use, I have to get in the car and drive 10 miles to get cheap underwear. If the city has the designations and then 20 banks decided to set up shop instead of the stores I need, what to do? Get in the car. Bike lanes and sidewalks are getting better, but there is still that treacherous stretch between here and there with no sidewalks or selvages and steep slopes or giant gullies, and no alternate path to the store. Wheelchair-friendly sidewalks are being installed, but no wheel-chair-bound commuter in their right mind would use them because the streets are too steep, and they spill out into a parkway where car-commuters swerve around at 60 mph while texting. Walkers can brave this mess during early morning rush-hour, or they can wait for the crazies to drive away but then its 95 degrees in the shade. Planners who force "walkability" often make it worse for many. They need to look at the demographics before forcing it on people. For most, walkability means, "let's get people out of their cars and into green exercise," and it doesn't necessary translate to, "lets make it easier for people to get around." So, you have "walkable" neighborhoods with meandering pathways and giant planter boxes that make it even more difficult for wheelchairs than before. You have wide sections of beautified tree-lined walking paths, but only at the expense of the bridal path. And, they go from nowhere to nowhere, so they are really only good for recreation, not for transportation. After 10 years, all those trees push up and destroy the sidewalk. Now the wheelchair has to navigate tight spaces around the trees, and also the slabs of concrete sticking out in the air. I am not confined to a wheelchair, but once I tried to walk into a town center with a wagon. Impossible to do without lifting it several times, crossing back and forth to find the decent sidewalk. It doesn't help when businesses don't let commuters use the bathrooms.
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