Walk It Off, Auburn
Ever wonder why many Americans are overweight? Ever wanted to make a healthy change? Here's one you should try.
So here’s the daily routine at my house during school: My roommates and I have 8 a.m. classes. At 7:30 a.m. I hop in my car while my roommates head down the street to walk to class. We have the same schedule, and they could easily hop in my car and make it to class at the same time. But they choose to walk. Hot, cold or rainy, they walk.
For the longest time, I couldn’t understand why. Driving is so much easier and seems quicker (although it actually takes me a little longer to get to class). They’ve explained to me that people in other countries walk everywhere they go, so why shouldn’t we? Um, no. We live in America. Those other countries walk because they have to (I know it’s not true). We don't. So they didn’t convince me. They also mentioned that if they can’t work out later, at least they got some exercise. Nope! Not for me.
One day, while I was surfing the web, (probably should’ve been studying) and I saw the title “What the World’s Healthiest Diets have in Common." I wanted to find that secret ingredient to healthy living. What type of food should you add or take away from your diet to be healthy? I didn’t want to know about cooking for Mediterranean or Asian diets. I wanted the facts. I wanted that one ingredient, and I found it.
“The only overlapping feature in most of these healthy countries around the world is that they all walk way more than the average American." So really, regardless of what you’re eating, if someone’s walking four miles more than you each day, they’re probably going to be thinner and live longer than you.
I immediately thought of my roommates. I googled more — this couldn’t actually be a thing. I quickly discovered that researchers have known about this issue in America for a long time. Y’all, we’re the second leading country in obesity after Mexico. Roughly 28 percent of Americans are obese! Why? According to LIVESTRONG, “Many American cities and towns were built in the automobile era, resulting in fewer walkable communities in the U.S. than in countries with lower obesity rates, such as Italy or France.”
Still not convinced? What if I told you that you would save on gas (walking is free!), earn your Fitbit steps, feel better and that your mood will improve. Walking can also be used proactively to better your health. According to GymInMotion.com, it counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes, helps tame a sweet tooth (I need this badly), reduces the risk of developing breast cancer, eases joint pain, boosts immune function, and increases oxygen to your heart. Now walking won’t get you "swole," but it will target your legs, glutes, aerobic endurance, and it will help you get stronger. And it’s a low-impact exercise for your body, so there’s really no way to get hurt — unless you fall down.
For many of us, our career paths will take us into large cities where walking won't be as easy as it is in Auburn. Let’s take advantage of our cozy college town where we can walk across campus in less than 20 minutes.
Let’s do this, Auburn.
If you live close enough to campus, walking is definitely the best option. You can spend your morning with a relaxing walk to get your mind together and prepare yourself for the day ahead. It’s the perfect way to wake your brain up and think clearly during your classes. See if your roommate is up for the challenge. Try it for a week and see how you feel. Little healthy initiatives lead to bigger ones, which leads to a healthy change in your body.
Turn your walk into an adventure! There are so many options in Auburn. You could walk at Chewacla, Town Creek Park, on campus, downtown, Kiesel Park (perfect for you and your furry companion), the Louise Kehrer Ecological Preserve or around any of the friendly Auburn neighborhoods.
Let’s walk, Auburn. Let’s walk, America. I take so much pride in our country, but we can’t forget to borrow the ideas that other countries have modeled and tested for us. Especially when it comes to health.
Be well, Auburn.
Photography: Jack P.