Try driving less; Go walking, biking
[Here’s a letter to the editor that I wrote, basically elaborating on the message: “This one runs on fat and saves you money; this one runs on money and makes you fat.”]
The cost of gasoline has risen, and new numbers that you published Dec. 19 indicate the average American household spent $4,155 filling up their tank in 2011. That alone is 8.4 percent of the median family income. This doesn’t even consider the cost of maintenance, insurance, depreciation, loan payments, parking fees and other costs.
Those hours spent burning the $4,155 worth of gas? It’s a bit difficult to exercise while driving or being driven.
Sixty-six percent of adults in our country are overweight or obese, and that number is true for our community, as well. The rising challenge of maintaining a healthy weight is due in large part to lack of physical activity. One third of our children are overweight or obese, and are more likely to be pre-diabetic than previous generations. Again, this is in large part due to a lack of physical activity.
But there’s an opportunity to change all of that. 40 percent of all trips are within two miles of the home, and 50 percent of the working population commutes five miles or less to work. Yet 82 percent of trips five miles or less are made by personal motor vehicle.
Committing to walking or biking instead of driving, even just on nice days, can provide some of the exercise needed to keep those also-rising health care costs under control.
Oh, and that $4,155 we spent on fuel for our cars? Much of it went to our top three foreign oil suppliers — Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico. It did not go into creating local jobs or investments in our community.
Looking for a New Year’s resolution? Each month in 2012 try making at least one trip of less than 2 miles on your bicycle or feet, instead of your car. It’s a small step, but you may find you like the fresh air and activity more than you thought you would!
- http://www.suntimes.com/business/9545827-420/at-gas-pump-2011-was-the-year-of-the-big-squeeze.html [Published widely as AP article]