Moving Towards Better Health
The question of what is the best transportation, specifically here in McCauley, is a complicated one. We live in a great neighbourhood where so many awesome businesses and parks, churches, and other facilities are very close by. We have restaurants, a fantastic grocery store, a number of convenience stores, and pharmacies all within close walking distance, not to mention nearly every denomination of church, making it possible to get around even in the coldest winter without a car. Getting to work is another issue for some, but we McCauley residents have the benefit of a dependable and efficient bus system that can whisk us downtown or to the Coliseum and from there quickly get us just about anywhere.
Myself, I love to walk. I could walk all day if it weren’t for the fact that I have sports injuries in one foot and a knee. Cycling is a great option, but more difficult in the winter. Still, I have been learning the importance of getting my exercise time in.
One of the best ways to exercise with injuries is to swim. Now that we have the Commonwealth Recreation Centre in the community, a short walk away, I often take advantage of the pool facilities. I have been learning more and more though, that I don’t need to push myself. The old adage of “no pain, no gain” may apply to winning aggressive sports, but it really doesn’t apply to fitness and general well being.
A lifeguard and medical student I knew well told me once that exercise is the best medicine for everything, and with some research I am finding out lately how true that is. But you don’t have to have bulging muscles or put in four hours on a treadmill each day. Moderation is key. Work 30 minutes of walking into your day. It can even be in three 10 minute chunks. That could mean walking to the coffee shop in the morning. Get off the bus a couple of stops early. People who have dogs have a great reason to get out and breathe fresh air and get some sunshine. They have a four-legged, furry walking coach.
What are the benefits of a half hour of walking? Reduced risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and on and on, right down to putting off the onset of dementia in seniors. Even obese people who don’t lose weight but exercise moderately have huge health benefits.
One of my favourite stories about the benefits of a less sedentary lifestyle talks about how during WWII in London there were fewer busses. Gas was rationed and so were many fatty foods. The result was that during the war, people had greatly reduced rates of illnesses because they were forced to walk more and eat better.
For me, owning a vehicle is no longer an option. First off, I want to reduce my carbon footprint. That is enough reason to not drive, but not everyone has that as an option. Next, I can’t stand the thought of paying upwards of $1,000 for insurance, thousands on gas and repairs, and with all that you haven’t even purchased your vehicle yet, which you are guaranteed to lose money on.
No, I am much happier cruising down the roadways on my bicycle, walking short distances, and taking advantage of our great bus system whenever I need to get around. It makes for a much less stressful life, and as an added bonus, each year for some time now I have tried to save what I could by not having a car or having to buy cigarettes, and I have been able to take dream vacations. Thanks to my healthy living I not only feel better, and I think look better, I can say that I have been as far away as California and Hawaii, Toronto, London, and Copenhagen, and with the extra years I will hopefully live by keeping myself healthy, who knows where next!
Leif is a writer in McCauley.