4

votes

Transportation, Obesity, and the Paleo Lifestyle

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 26, 2012 at 2:23 PM

This question comes from my bailiwick, transportation planning. It begins with this interesting article about mapping obesity rates and driving patterns:

http://www.fastcoexist.com/1679157/mapping-the-link-between-obesity-and-car-driving

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?

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on January 30, 2012
at 04:22 PM

go borrow a wheelchair and then try to navigate a newly designed space, like a "mixed use" center with a theater, fancy walkways, eateries, maybe some businesses. For extra fun, try doing it in the rain. Maybe then you won't be so bewildered by the statement. Basically, "mixed use" means a mix of businesses, not people. Folks who have trouble walking don't go to these places. They go to the places where they can either park right next door or where there is a good drop-off provision.

026dde5c5ed48e30d006ac075410871e

(288)

on January 30, 2012
at 01:24 AM

"I cringe any time I hear making something "walkable" because that usually makes it inaccessible for a large chunk of the population." This is such a bewildering statement. Making locations walkable means that they are accessible to all, not just those who own cars. Including kids who don't have licenses yet, seniors who can no longer drive but who can get around just fine with a cane, and people who can't afford a car.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 27, 2012
at 06:28 PM

I've walked a lot in Bradenton, JAX and Ft. Myers. Flat. Hot. A few free oranges along the way that fell of the Tropicana trucks. I liked it a lot more than 0 degrees in Chicago.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 27, 2012
at 05:11 PM

Ok. It'll take a few minutes, but I'll find a link to something better than yesterday's Economist column. Glad to hear about all the longevity in your family, wish mine had as much, so I have to be more intentional if I'm going to live that long. My parents aren't Jack Lalanne, but they strive to stay active.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on January 27, 2012
at 04:57 PM

..and my great aunt did everything herself, even dug her own outhouse hole when it came time for a new one. She went to 86. Granny OTOH, did no exercise except walking up and down the stairs of her fashionable city home. She went to 96. Neither of them drove.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on January 27, 2012
at 04:53 PM

ask a new question and I'll play

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 27, 2012
at 04:52 PM

Loon I'll match your parent and raise you a great aunt. Playing cards with you keeps my mind sharp. Now what's your take on Autophagy and aging?

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on January 27, 2012
at 04:34 PM

Moron, Thhq, Moron. Don't be one at any age.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on January 27, 2012
at 04:31 PM

thhq, maybe instead of just watching, you could learn something. My mom is older than that, and she walks around with a cane like a frail old lady. I never remember when she didn't. I guess she chose to be her own victim when she decided to have a debilitating illness in her 20's.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 27, 2012
at 04:27 PM

And Loon, what I do at age 59 is going to affect my quality of life at 90. Jack Lalanne was not old and frail at 96. Autophagy, Loon, Autophagy. Diet has less to do with it than exercise.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 27, 2012
at 04:22 PM

I've watched a lot of old people for signs of what to do Loon, but I pay most attention to my mid-80's parents. They move as much as they can, and have outlived their sedentary parents by 10 years. I don't see them sitting around watching videos about how Monsanto is to blame for their health problems. They play cards to keep their minds sharp, travel a lot, farm, garden, and can stuff.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on January 27, 2012
at 03:55 PM

Thhq, old frail people aren't their own victims. Hopefully you will become smarter as you age.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on January 27, 2012
at 03:54 PM

I'll answer in another answer.

Fe33d1321dad116f6fedd60266d0498b

on January 27, 2012
at 05:38 AM

(I really am genuinely interested in your perspective- esp in this forum. There is quite the push towards a more diverse mode split in the plannerworld, and its rare to see a negative (or even just cautionary) response that isn't along the lines of "don't touch my nigh-unlimited free-to-me big-box/Wal-Mart parking lots", or characterized as such.)

Fe33d1321dad116f6fedd60266d0498b

on January 27, 2012
at 05:36 AM

I'm also a planner- just a generalist, not a transpo planner like the OP- and I'm interested: how do zoning regulations affect your (personal) transportation choices? &/or how do you perceive it affects the transportation choices of others? I'm also interested in why/how you associate "walkability" with lack of accessibility.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 26, 2012
at 05:53 PM

Inactivity causes inactivity. If you choose not to move you are your own victim.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 26, 2012
at 05:49 PM

Living around Chicago was when I first had much experience with rails-to-trails conversions. The rail lines were efficient transportation corridors, and avoid most surface traffic. I now look for these systems wherever I travel.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on January 26, 2012
at 04:09 PM

I just read the link. Bad study in so many ways, I don't even know where to start.

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7 Answers

2
Bdf98e5a57befa6f0877f978ba09871c

on January 27, 2012
at 04:36 PM

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.

2
Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on January 26, 2012
at 02:52 PM

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:

  • Subway
  • Walking
  • Bicycling
  • Skipping

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 :)

2
246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on January 26, 2012
at 02:35 PM

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.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 27, 2012
at 06:28 PM

I've walked a lot in Bradenton, JAX and Ft. Myers. Flat. Hot. A few free oranges along the way that fell of the Tropicana trucks. I liked it a lot more than 0 degrees in Chicago.

1
76d70438d2442d21206b8e5528d23d23

on January 26, 2012
at 03:29 PM

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!

1
Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 26, 2012
at 02:42 PM

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).

0
8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on January 26, 2012
at 04:07 PM

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.

Fe33d1321dad116f6fedd60266d0498b

on January 27, 2012
at 05:38 AM

(I really am genuinely interested in your perspective- esp in this forum. There is quite the push towards a more diverse mode split in the plannerworld, and its rare to see a negative (or even just cautionary) response that isn't along the lines of "don't touch my nigh-unlimited free-to-me big-box/Wal-Mart parking lots", or characterized as such.)

Fe33d1321dad116f6fedd60266d0498b

on January 27, 2012
at 05:36 AM

I'm also a planner- just a generalist, not a transpo planner like the OP- and I'm interested: how do zoning regulations affect your (personal) transportation choices? &/or how do you perceive it affects the transportation choices of others? I'm also interested in why/how you associate "walkability" with lack of accessibility.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 27, 2012
at 04:27 PM

And Loon, what I do at age 59 is going to affect my quality of life at 90. Jack Lalanne was not old and frail at 96. Autophagy, Loon, Autophagy. Diet has less to do with it than exercise.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 26, 2012
at 05:53 PM

Inactivity causes inactivity. If you choose not to move you are your own victim.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on January 27, 2012
at 04:57 PM

..and my great aunt did everything herself, even dug her own outhouse hole when it came time for a new one. She went to 86. Granny OTOH, did no exercise except walking up and down the stairs of her fashionable city home. She went to 96. Neither of them drove.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 27, 2012
at 04:22 PM

I've watched a lot of old people for signs of what to do Loon, but I pay most attention to my mid-80's parents. They move as much as they can, and have outlived their sedentary parents by 10 years. I don't see them sitting around watching videos about how Monsanto is to blame for their health problems. They play cards to keep their minds sharp, travel a lot, farm, garden, and can stuff.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on January 27, 2012
at 03:54 PM

I'll answer in another answer.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on January 27, 2012
at 04:34 PM

Moron, Thhq, Moron. Don't be one at any age.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on January 27, 2012
at 04:31 PM

thhq, maybe instead of just watching, you could learn something. My mom is older than that, and she walks around with a cane like a frail old lady. I never remember when she didn't. I guess she chose to be her own victim when she decided to have a debilitating illness in her 20's.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on January 27, 2012
at 04:53 PM

ask a new question and I'll play

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 27, 2012
at 04:52 PM

Loon I'll match your parent and raise you a great aunt. Playing cards with you keeps my mind sharp. Now what's your take on Autophagy and aging?

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on January 27, 2012
at 03:55 PM

Thhq, old frail people aren't their own victims. Hopefully you will become smarter as you age.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 27, 2012
at 05:11 PM

Ok. It'll take a few minutes, but I'll find a link to something better than yesterday's Economist column. Glad to hear about all the longevity in your family, wish mine had as much, so I have to be more intentional if I'm going to live that long. My parents aren't Jack Lalanne, but they strive to stay active.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on January 30, 2012
at 04:22 PM

go borrow a wheelchair and then try to navigate a newly designed space, like a "mixed use" center with a theater, fancy walkways, eateries, maybe some businesses. For extra fun, try doing it in the rain. Maybe then you won't be so bewildered by the statement. Basically, "mixed use" means a mix of businesses, not people. Folks who have trouble walking don't go to these places. They go to the places where they can either park right next door or where there is a good drop-off provision.

026dde5c5ed48e30d006ac075410871e

(288)

on January 30, 2012
at 01:24 AM

"I cringe any time I hear making something "walkable" because that usually makes it inaccessible for a large chunk of the population." This is such a bewildering statement. Making locations walkable means that they are accessible to all, not just those who own cars. Including kids who don't have licenses yet, seniors who can no longer drive but who can get around just fine with a cane, and people who can't afford a car.

-1
8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on January 27, 2012
at 04:22 PM

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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