An interesting post on Boing Boing asks the question: does sprawl make us fat? Does less sprawl = more walking/less driving = more exercise = fewer fat people? Sorta makes sense to me. If you live in an area where most of the services you need are within walking distance, and you choose to walk, chances are your weight is going to be pretty good. Theoretically, anyway.
Critter and I were talking about this the other day, reflecting back on last year’s trip to Europe. We were amazed by how much we could see and do just by walking…especially Amsterdam, where everything is so densely-packed. We walked everywhere, only taking the bus when we were late for a train. And the only fat people we saw were obviously tourists! It was pretty sobering. Everyone in Amsterdam either walks or bikes (cars are sort of a rare and expensive undertaking). Berlin is very walkable, too — despite their fantastic mass transit, we spent 95% of our time there getting around on foot.
Compare that to our recent trip to sprawl-happy Phoenix, where nobody walks anywhere. Ever. They drive-drive-drive, because everything is so damned spread out and far away, sprawling uncontrollably in every direction with no end in sight. City blocks are monstrous, and most of the streets are extra-wide with extra lanes, because cars are how people get around. (Arizona does have more room for sprawl than other places, but that doesn’t mean they can’t reel it in a bit!) I lived in the Phoenix/Mesa/Tempe area for 10 years, and drove absolutely everywhere…and most of the time I was fat-fat-fat. I can’t blame that all on sprawl, of course, but if I had been in a more neighborhood-like setting, with services closer than they were, I probably would have gotten a bit more exercise. On the flipside, for several years here in Seattle I lived in neighborhoods where everything was within a few blocks’ walk except my job. I drove a hell of a lot less and was in far better shape! The hills in Queen Anne and Capitol Hill can do ya plenty of good.
So how about you folks and where you live? Do you find yourself walking more and weighing less, or vice versa? Just curious!