Any eco-freak worth his/her salt knows that suburban sprawl is bad (destroys wildlife habitat, requires excessive use of automobiles, is ugly, etc.). So far, the average response of the average American to the eco-freaks has been: “So what? We love our sprawl.” Now it appears that living in the midst of sprawl is associated with being fat. Better yet, a study has found that living in the midst of sprawl can make you feel like you’re years older:
In 2004, Cohen and Roland Sturm of RAND asked more than 8,000 residents of 38 U.S. communities to list their health problems. The researchers also assessed the degree of sprawl in each resident’s community. “People reported more complaints — more health problems — when they lived in more sprawling areas,” Cohen says. The excess of physical problems such as arthritis linked to sprawl was comparable to the change that would occur if the entire population suddenly aged by 4 years, Cohen and Sturm concluded.
Now we eco-freaks have a new argument: sprawl makes you fat and old. Read more: link.
Yup. This is born out in my experience, no doubt. When I lived in the center of Concord, I walked to the train, walked from the train to the subway, walked from the subway to work, then to classes at Emerson. Great, almost invisible exercise. We (my fellow graduate students and I) all were in good shape. Not athletes, but rather, healthy and moving. Then we all got jobs, moved away. A friend moved to L.A. and gained 40 pounds. I moved to Indiana, and no I didn’t gain 40 pounds, but staying fit is a challenge. We drive EVERYWHERE here. I once did an essay on all the drive throughs. Drive through fast food, drive through dry cleaners, liquor stores, large animal feed barn, drug stores, even a little chain of stores that advertises on billboards: Come as you are! Shop from your car! And the little sign on their door says: no customers allowed inside store.
Watch out, you’ll be called a snob for having such an attitude, but I wouldn’t change my in-town living for anything.
Jean — Just to clarify, when you talk about Concord, you mean Concord, Mass.
Scott — I’d love to have someone call me a snob. It would be a nice change. Most suburbanites, when they hear I live in downtown New Bedford, look at me with a kind of horror.
Right. Concord, Mass. When it was a *real* town…