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Could the Low-Car Diet Be For You?

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 . . .


AlannaS AlannaS 8 years
This is pretty much my strategy already...I don't own a car, I commute by bike, walk to the store, etc... Works for me!
Kat-E Kat-E 8 years
Fortunately, I live in a pretty bicycle-friendly city (San Francisco) and while it's hilly, we also have great public transit to help. My friendsin Minneapolis couldn't do this in the winter though - it's too cold!
Allytta Allytta 8 years
i don;t own a car :) and very happy about it.
Soniabonya Soniabonya 8 years
i enjoy biking from home to work, except in the rain and cold. ugh. not fun. i walk to the store and back but seeing how all my friends live 10 miles way from me and the annoying schedule of the VTA system here, i'd rather drive. time is important to me.
nancita nancita 8 years
I walk and take public transportation, using a carshare program on the weekends for big errands. I love to take really long walks if I have time, rather than taking the bus. It's really been great for my fitness, if hard on my calloused feet and worn-out socks!
tarall10 tarall10 8 years
I live in DC, and don't own a car. I walk to do almost all of my errands, and take the metro to work. It is fantastic. Also, I don't own a bike yet, but am hoping too.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
well i live in NYC so for the most part i'm taking the subway or walking just about everywhere that i go, so it's not a big deal. the issue is on the weekends when i go to my mom's house and she's in suburban NJ. that's the complicated piece.
mod16 mod16 8 years
definitely. i am a college student, who lives 5 min away from campus.. since my whole life i'm concentrating on school, i dont really go anywhere except for school. now, there is no way i can bike home to louisiana from georgia for the holidays. talk about an excessive amount of calories burned. i burn about 600 calories just DRIVING from georgia to lousiana. i couldn't imagine how many calories i would burn biking.
wambalus wambalus 8 years
I've never owned a car so this isn't a problem for me. Have to say though, having lived abroad for many years, the US is poorly behind when it comes to public transportation.
chatondeneige chatondeneige 8 years
This might have gone over a lot better if you'd suggested it in September or October, Fit. The seven inches of snow we've gotten in the last 36 hours (in AZ, no less) make me unwilling to even consider a low car diet.
LilyLyra LilyLyra 8 years
I don't have a car, neither a license. I mostly walk everywhere but in horrible weather or if I'm in a rush I'll take a cab. I don't like biking so much...
itsallabouttheg itsallabouttheg 8 years
right now, i work about 40 miles from where i live. while i would absolutely love to use transportation to get to work, it would take roughly the same amount of time for me to drive to the nearest bart station as it would to drive all the way to the office!
margokhal margokhal 8 years
WHAT. ABSOLUTELY NO. I live near Houston, which is a very large city, both in population but even more in area. We haven't got much in the way of a mass transit system [but they're working on it], so getting around you HAVE TO HAVE a car. Yes, downtown's only a couple of square miles, but most of the action/things people need to do are in the periphery/in the incorporated outskirts + suburbs of town. I travel 30 min by freeway to school, going shopping for food is 10 miles away, I can't even mail a letter without driving at least 8 minutes! If I lived more central to town and not near the 'burbs, it might be a bit different - but no, can't do much without a car here. So no car diet for me! I'd rather starve...or just pay for a gym membership! :)
jueycruiser jueycruiser 8 years
If my city had better public transportation i absolutely would. our country is built for cars, minus a few cities. i hate it, but unless a lot of people get mad things wont change. take the gas prices, when they were high everybody was all about building street cars, now that they are cheap, everybody gives up!! it makes me sad.
jdeprima jdeprima 8 years
Duh here, too--I live in NYC and don't even own a car. Now if only there were a stretch I could do to alleviate the soreness I get from patting myself on the back...
livetolove livetolove 8 years
If it's a toss up between walking and driving, I'll always chose to walk. I drive but I don't own a car myself and as a college kid in the bay area, it's really not that big of a deal.
andrealocke andrealocke 8 years
I live and work in DC and the public transportation is GREAT!!!!! My diet is completely no-car. :)
LaurenG22 LaurenG22 8 years
I don't work, so sure ;)
bethinabox bethinabox 8 years
I don't have my drivers license anyway, so I'm forced to take public transport or walk when I want to go somewhere. My parents still bug me every once in a while to get my license, but honestly, I'd rather save the money I would spend on car payments, insurance, gas, etc, and take public transport or a bike wherever I need to go. I will just have to plan very carefully once I'm out of college and deciding where to live and whatnot, and make sure there is decent public transport and/or many things close by.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
When it's nicer out, sure, I'll walk all over the place. But when it's 15 degrees out and snowing/sleeting/freezing raining (my current forecast), there's no way. Besides, I get a lot of exercise as it is through running and going to the gym.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
Um, I live in Wisconsin and I commute 30 miles each way to work. This morning it was -5 degrees outside and there would be no way in hell I would bike to work in weather like this. On days I don't work, I do try to avoid driving though...I walk to the post office to send back the Netflix, I walk to the grocery store if I only need a couple of things, and I walk to the library to take back books. So yeah, I try to be very active in my everyday life.
animatedpunk animatedpunk 8 years
I live in LA which is HUGE, and it takes forever for me to get anywhere as it is. Our metro is very limited.... IF it was better and went to more areas, then I would DEFINITELY stop driving so much. But unfortunately I have too far of a distance to go :(
mondaymoos mondaymoos 8 years
Our mass transit system here sucks. And honestly, it's a struggle to get up as early as I do and it takes me 20 minutes to get to work. I couldn't imagine wrenching myself from bed to bikeride here. The "only the weekends" challenge would definitely be doable for me though.
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