Being Honest About Walking

Walking By lindejesus
There are a lot of articles out there, especially this time of year, that attempt to address the issue of fitness in our society.  Most are pretty simplistic -- eat less, exercise more -- and some even attempt to blame bad genes.

David Frum said yesterday in this article what I think needs to be repeated over and over...

First lady Michelle Obama has made healthy eating her special project. Good for her, and let's hope her efforts lead to success. But if we are to succeed, we should understand: The campaign against obesity will have to look a lot less like the campaign against smoking (which involves just one decision, to smoke or not to smoke) and much more like the generation-long campaign against highway fatalities, which required the redesign of cars, the redesign of highways, and changes in personal behavior like seat-belt use and drunk driving.
It is not only the truth, it is the only truth.  We simply can't live in a world where we get our cake and eat it too. It is like the old irony that we spend billions a year in fitness equipment yet fight for the closest parking place.  When given two choices, to try to get more fit while at the same time acting less fit, we tend to pick...well both of them.

So does this mean that we should remove one of these options?  Should we simply force people to walk more?  No, in fact as I just stated, people will actually choose better options for themselves.  The reality is, walkable places are some of the most demanded to live in.  That isn't to say that everyone will choose to live in a place that is more conducive to a healthy lifestyle.  Just like not everyone buys a treadmill to keep up with their exercise.  Or some people choose eating healthy over regular exercise diets.

Walkability isn't just about yuppy, dense, neighborhoods.  It is amazing how walkable some places can be with just a little effort.  Sidewalks, pedestrian laws, and mixed uses go very far, even in "suburban" contexts to providing more ways for people to simply get out and walk a little each day.    This isn't to diminish reasons like walking should be a fundamental right.   The idea that you are practically required to own a car to even legally move from your house to the grocery store is to me, a slap in the face of the values and freedoms this nation was founded on.

Nevertheless, rebuilding spaces to ensure that walking is indeed an option can and must place a roll in helping America get back in shape.  I say back in shape because it really wasn't too long ago that we had this under control.  We can do it!