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January 2009
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Active Transportation vs Obesity

While scanning my news reader this morning I happened upon this article on The City Fix. Get Fit For the New Year?   Consider Riding Your Bike To Work discussed the inverse relationship between those countries that utilize active transportation and obesity rates. Not surprising that European cities tended to have lower obesity rates and more people walking, cycling, or using public transportation to get to work. The United States had to worst record with the highest obesity rates and the fewest active people.

The article aslo mentioned a great article from the Journal of   Physical Activity and Health . The article titled Walking, Cycling, and Obesity Rates in Europe, North America and Australia compared the lifestyle of the residents to the obesity rates. The authors not that European cities  had an advantage for higher active transportation rates and lower obesity rates because:

1. Compact, dense cities with mixed land uses that generate short trips

2. Restrictions on car use such as car-free zones, low speed limits, and prohibitions of through traffic

3. Extensive, safe, and convenient facilities for walking and cycling;

4. Traffic calming of residential neighborhoods;

5. Coordination of public transit with walking and cycling to transit stations and stops, including bike parking, as well as safe sidewalks and bikeways;

6. Traffic regulations and enforcement policies that favor pedestrians and cyclists over motorists; and

7. High cost of owning and operating a car resulting from expensive driver licensing, high gasoline prices, and high taxes on car purchases.

What I can gather from this is that here in North America and in Australia we need to change how we live. We need to live closer to where we work. We need to live closer to basic amenities, like grocery stores, drug stores, retail districts. We need to be more active in general.

Back in November I wrote an article about active transportation and how I was going to make a commitment to being more ‘active’ when it comes to going to and from work. I still strive for this, but I think until the snow melts my ability to walk (or run) and bike may be slightly hindered.