I have a huge pet peeve about Americans – we have become a society of people who don’t move! I’m talking about people who are perpetually sedentary. It really bothers me to see people getting winded from walking across a parking lot.
As a country, we have huge obesity problem. It’s one thing to have a medical condition or to be on medication that result in weight gain, but another situation when people are eating way more than they need and then never moving to the point where they become incapable of doing it.
I get really sad when I see this in children. My cousin took dance classes since she was little and I used to go to the big recital in the spring that featured every level from the toddlers to the advanced teens. One year I saw a four year-old who could barely skip because she was so chubby. You could see every hop for her was an effort. I wanted to find her parents and ask, “What are you doing to your child?”
We didn’t used to be this way. I think a big part of this problem is the fact that modern conveniences have allowed too many of us to adopt a lifestyle where we never need to leave the couch. Instead of washing, chopping, and cooking food, we have microwave meals or order in. Instead of sweeping or vacuuming the floor, we have the Roomba do it for us. Instead of playing outside, our kids play video games. We used to have to at least walk through the mall to go shopping, but now we can buy everything we want online.
I remember as a kid, our Saturday morning family tradition was walking to the park to play. It was simple and fun. I think a lot of people have forgotten how much fun these simple things are.
Without having to go more than five blocks from my house, I can buy groceries, go to the pharmacy, get fast food, eat at a real restaurant, bank, mail something, have my clothes dry cleaned, rent a movie, buy running shoes, and visit a park. It’s a little eerie when I walk to do my errands and I hardly see anyone else on the sidewalks. This summer, I’ve made a commitment to myself that if I have to go to any of these places, unless I need the cargo space of my car, I’m walking or skating there.
My end-of-the semester gift to myself is going to be a bike. My hope is to ride to anywhere that I want to go within five miles of my house, if not seven miles, and where it’s ok to arrive sweaty. Did I mention that I live in Arizona? I plan to carry a fresh t-shirt and a stick of deodorant in my Camelbak. Please feel free to send me sunscreen because I hate having tan lines.
This proved to me that no one who lives near me uses the sidewalks. I live near the Arizona Canal – one of the man-made waterways that bring water from the Colorado River to sustain central and southern Arizona. Many ducks live along the canal and there’s a wonderful path for running and cycling that’s separate from the roadways. There are tons of places for ducks to make their nests, yet the other day I found a pair of ducks nesting under a fallen construction sign that was only six feet away from the sidewalk and major Phoenix street. I figured the volume of foot traffic was so low that it seemed like a safe place to start their family.