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Lose Weight Fast - Move to the City!

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
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7,903
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35
Interesting article...

The real estate diet: New study reveals those in older neighbourhoods exercise more

National Post

Wed 24 Jul 2002 - Arts & Life - AL1 / Front

Brad Evenson

When he abandoned the suburb of Pointe-Claire for downtown Montreal, Mike Gosselin looked forward to dining in chic restaurants and seeing more films. But at 223 pounds, the divorce counsellor worried about gaining weight. Instead, after two years, his waistline has shrunk from 38 inches to 34. Not only does he need new trousers, he needs new shoes.
"The old ones are worn out," laughs Gosselin.

"Nowadays, I walk everywhere. Everything is so close. I'm even thinking about selling my car."

Gosselin is discovering what advocates of the so-called "New Urbanism" have been preaching since the early 1980s: Suburbs are unhealthy. And as North America confronts an epidemic of obesity, medical researchers are beginning to agree.

A study of 17,000 adults published today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine says people who live in houses at least 27 years old are considerably more likely than residents of newer homes to walk a mile or more at least 20 times a month.

"Neighbourhoods containing older homes in urban areas are more likely to have sidewalks, have denser interconnected networks of streets and often display a mix of business and residential uses," says epidemiologist David Berrigan of the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Berrigan set out to measure how people's neighbourhoods affected how much they exercised. However, conducting such a study would mean interviewing thousands of people and cost millions of scarce research dollars.

But in a lucky coincidence, Berrigan and his colleague Richard Troiano found a "hidden gem" in a national health survey of Americans that had already been completed.

"The survey had a question about the age of people's residences," says Berrigan. "We think it had something to do with lead. Older homes are more likely to have lead paint in them."

When the researchers compared exercise with the age of dwelling, they found that 64% of respondents who lived in houses built before 1974 were the most active.

"It's obviously not a feature of the house itself," says Berrigan. "The house doesn't make you walk more or less. It's the neighbourhood that the house is embedded in."

He said most of these older houses are in denser and more diverse neighbourhoods, not in sprawling suburbs where people tend to drive automobiles wherever they're going.

"If it's too far away to anything, people won't have destinations so people won't walk anywhere because it takes too long," says Berrigan.

"If you can only walk around the neighbourhood, some people will walk for exercise. But if there are stores, shops, cafes, post offices, school and workplaces in a neighbourhood, that encourages walking, in part for exercise and part for the business of everyday life."

The unsolved question, says Berrigan, is whether people walk more because their neighbourhood is walkable, or whether people move to neighbourhoods where it is pleasant to walk.

Fierce critics of the suburbs such as James Howard Kunstler, author of the 1994 best-seller The Geography of Nowhere, do not find the study's conclusions surprising.

"The fact that so many people are not living in walkable communities has tremendous implications that go far beyond simple health questions like are you getting enough cardiovascular exercise," he says.

"There are terrible social implications, cultural implications and all the issues that arise out of the destruction of local economic and community networks that allowed people to feel they were part of an organism called a community."

Kunstler praises the New Urbanism, a growing movement of architects, planners and developers that embraces a return to traditional neighbourhood patterns. These compact, mixed-use neighbourhoods began to disappear with the ascendancy of the automobile after the Second World War. Today, hundreds of new towns, villages and neighbourhoods based on the New Urbanism are planned or under construction across North America. Examples include a community in Markham, Ont., called Cornell, Calgary's McKenzie Town and Murray's Corner in Langley, B.C.

The defining characteristics of these new neighbourhoods include a town centre, with most dwellings no farther than 600 metres away, a mixture of nearby shops and offices, a school within walking distance and many small playgrounds. Streets are narrow and parking tends to be behind buildings.

By contrast, most suburbs have no defined core, wide streets and acres of parking in strip malls that are hostile to foot traffic.

Kunstler says in some cases, dead shopping malls are being transformed into traditional town squares to revive communities, but ultimately, he thinks the suburban model is doomed.

"Probably the unhappy truth about the situation is that, in my opinion ... there's a lot about the suburbs that's going to be unsalvageable," he says.

"When the cheap petroleum age is over, none of this s--- is going to work. It's all going to be obsolete."

ILLUSTRATION:: : Black & White Photo: Nick Didlick, National Post / VANCOUVER'S KITSILANO NEIGHBOURHOOD: "The house doesn't make you walk more or less. It's the neighbourhood the house is embedded in."

SOURCE National Post
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
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27
I believe it. Having lived outside of Philly for 3 years I can vouch that you just don't see the same amount of people out and about in the suburbs like you do in the cities and older neighborhoods.
 

Glomer

Member
Messages
207
Points
9
I don't know.......I live in the burbs....We have trails running around our development. I run four days a week and see many people biking and rollerblading.

I guess I just feel that there are many other more directly related reasons for the beefing up of our society than sprawl.......for instance kids spend too much time playing video games, watching t.v.,checking out porn (or cyburbia......I've gained 5 pounds since introduced to this site) on the internet, both parents are having to work more, no time to excercise, we super size everything from happy meals to big gulps......
 
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27
I agree with Glomer's points, but at the same time.... Saratoga Springs is a city 30 minutes north of Albany - the only central city in the MSA to actually gain population 1990-2000. Mixed use, vibrant downtown at all hours of the day and night. My friends that live there will maybe put gas in their car once a month.

However, I'm fortunate to live in the older section of my town, my best friend is a 1.5 mi. bike ride away, as are my husband's parents. We walk to the tennis courts a couple times a week and rollerblade to our park every day. But these are all recreational activities, "suitable" for location near residential areas. I think the point about living in a walkable city is that you are getting exercise going to the post office, getting groceries or going out to dinner, things that most suburbanites (including me) have to drive to.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
35
I meant to add a bit of a commentary on this article when I posted it. Although I support more urban style development, I was a little critical of the article as it seemed to present a rather superficial analysis. I guess you'd have to read the medical journal referred to in order to really see if these researchers are on to anything.

I agree with Glomer that in the end it is a personal choice - you can find ways to keep fit wherever you live, if you really want to. However, I do believe that living in an urban area does make it easier to "unconciously" get more exercise, whether you're a couch potato or a fitness fanatic.
 
Messages
3,690
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27
Oh my god!!!! Does he think that the entire DOT, federal and local, is paid for with tax on gasoline and car registration fees? And DOT is only construction and maintenance of State and County projects. What an a**hole. I would love to get my hands on revenue figures for how much governments receive for gas taxes as opposed to all expenditures. grrrr.

(And now I just had to moderate myself!)
 
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