There are many reason to rejoice for the low cost of gas, but our nation's overall health may not be one of them. One of the few benefits of shelling out big bucks at the gas pump was that people starting walking and biking more, as well as taking mass transit, which ultimately means walking more. This added exercise was not only good for the planet, but good for the waistline, too.
A recent study found a correlation between rates of "active transportation" — code for "not driving an automobile" — and obesity rates. Countries like Sweden, Netherlands, and Latvia have high rates of commuters, over 50 percent, who walk, bike, or use mass transit. These countries also have low obesity rates. Sweden's is only 9 percent. To contrast, some US states have obesity rates as higher than 30 percent and Colorado has the lowest at 19 percent. It is not surprising that Europeans "walk three times as far and cycle five times as far as Americans."
Zip Car, an eco-minded urban car rental company serving 12 US cities, has created the Low-Car Diet Challenge. It asks that you put your car keys away for 30 days and use some "active transportation" to get yourself around. By giving up driving for a month, people on the "low-car diet" increased the miles they walked by 85 percent and the miles they biked by 136 percent. With stats like that we could rival some of those European countries. This might not be the easiest thing to do in the Winter months, but it is a great idea. Maybe a possible New Year's resolution?
So I am curious . . .