Yearly Archives: 2013

How Walking can Save America

copyright Jenifer Joy MaddenCan sidewalks save the country?

With so many of us getting so little exercise and nearly 20% of GNP being spent on treating people in poor health, the sedentary status quo is unsustainable.  “The U.S. economy will collapse if we keep spending the money we’re spending on medical services,” says Richard J. Jackson, a physician, UCLA professor and former US health official. The doctor’s prescription for improving health: make it easier for people to see friends, go to the bus, shopping, work and school under their own power. In Jackson’s words, “we have to build physical activity irresistibly into peoples’ lives.”

Dr. Jackson was keynote speaker at the International Making Cities Livable Conference in Portland, Oregon – a model city for active transportation. Jackson hosts a PBS series and has written a book on designing healthy communities.

He began with these sorry statistics:

  • 1 out of 2 American adults gets no regular exercise.
  • 1 in 3 adults is certifiably obese.
  • The number of people with type 2 diabetes (a disease related to obesity) has doubled in the past 15 years. Treatment of diabetes accounts for 2% of the GDP.
  • The longer the car commute, the greater the likelihood of gaining weight.
  • About 1 in every 10 kids walks or bikes to school today compared with almost 7 in 10 in 1974.
  • In 2011, three-quarters of California 5th graders failed a simple fitness test.

Thankfully, other Jackson numbers proved his main point: that individuals and communities will be healthier if they are more active.

  • 3,000 borderline diabetics who walked 30 minutes 5 days a week over a 6-month period reduced their diabetes risk by 50%.
  • After the city of Charlotte, North Carolina opened a light rail line in 2007, drivers who switched to the train lost an average of six pounds and reduced their long-range chances of becoming obese by 81%.
  • Older Americans who walked 45 minutes three days each week for a year had a 2% increase in brain volume while the brains of those who didn’t exercise shrank by 1.5%.

Meanwhile, a report by the National Association of Realtors shows that neighborhoods supported by good public transportation (which by definition are “walkable”) can be as valuable as beach front property. A person who uses a bus or train instead of driving can save $750,000 over a lifetime, according to planner/architect Jeff Speck’s new book, Walkable City.

Another lesson in how to be smart with money: when Portland spent $60 million dollars to improve its bicycle transportation system, 4% of drivers switched to cycling. But when the city poured a billion dollars into its transit system, only 2% of drivers moved to public transportation.

Does your family need help to be more connected, active, and healthy? Then get the 1-page Time Priorities Checklist.

I’ve been writing for a while now about why kids who can safely walk or bike to school are happier, healthier, more independent and ready to learn. I asked Dr. Jackson what more parents, communities and schools can do to help kids become durable adults. As he says here, kids need different lessons than they are being taught in the classroom: (interview 1 minute 10 seconds)

I was honored (and lucky) to meet Dr. Jackson just as I was writing How To Be a Durable Human, so lots of his advice is in the book. You can read the book’s prequel, The Durable Human Manifesto, by downloading the free PDF here or buying the print version.

 Learn more about the author of this post on Google+

 

Being in the Cast of Listen To Your Mother

Listen To Your Mother. Although I couldn’t get my mind around exactly what the show was all about, from the moment I heard there were auditions in the D.C. area, I felt compelled to try out. We were directed to a nondescript hotel in the suburbs of northern Virginia. Despite indications that all was legit, my skin was crawling as I knocked on a door at the end of a long hallway on the ninth floor. But show producer Kate Coveny Hood and director Stephanie Stearns Dulli lived and breathed and couldn’t have been more welcoming and reassuring. I tried to stay calm as I delivered a story I wrote about my durable mom for a recent Mother’s Day. A few weeks later, when I learned I was a chosen one, I was excited and terrified. Reality finally struck that I’d be joining fourteen other writers on the stage of a full-sized theater complete with lights, camera and lively audience. Continue reading

Helping your Child Walk or Bike to School

A good way for kids to be durable in the long run is by learning how to get themselves around. Riding the bus certainly helps them to become more self-reliant, but if they walk or bike they also get a good workout, fresh air and a healthy dose of freedom.

Unlike how it was when you were growing up, only 1 in 10 kids today walk or bike to school. To improve those odds, the national Safe Routes to School program sponsors International Bike to School Day in the spring and Walk to School Day in October.

More and more, school systems in the U.S. and around the world are endorsing the Days, as we have recently here in Fairfax County, Virginia. Some of our schools have expanded to Bike and Walk Week and are even challenging each other to friendly competitions. Others schools encourage students to walk or bike on a particular day each week.

If you want your child give it a try, check out these suggestions: Continue reading

Cycling Success Stories Mainly About Women

copyright 2013 Jenifer Joy MaddenWith the arrival of spring, more people are in the mood to give cycling a try. May is packed with bike activities including International Bike to School Day, this year on the 8th. The Safe Routes to School program has a great how-to site for parents who want their kids to be more active, independent and durable in the long run. To that end, I popped some get-started walking and cycling tips over to Activity Rocket, a site which helps parents in the Washington, D.C. area find fun and productive things for their kids to do.

My own love for cycling propelled me to trek to the heart of the city for another May event sponsored by the “Capital Spokeswomen” and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association‘s Women and Bicycles program. “Open Mic Women and Bicycling Night” was described as “your chance to take the stage to share 4 minutes of bike love.” Since cycling is part of my newly-minted Durable Human Manifesto, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.Copyright 2013 Jenifer Joy Madden Continue reading

Introducing the Durable Human Manifesto

Although The Durable Human Manifesto contains the word “revolution” (thanks to Foo Fighter Dave Grohl), it comes in peace as a declaration of human awesomeness and celebration of our supremely unique selves.

The goal is to embolden people to actively cherish and amplify the attributes we have as human beings that our smartphones don’t. 

The Manifesto’s welcoming design and striking images make it different from a typical publication. I hope you see and feel it like a breath of empowering fresh air.

I have already written a sequel to The Manifesto: How To Be a Durable Human: Revive and Thrive in the Digital Age Through The Power of Self-Design, but I’m still looking for thoughts and guidance on The Durable Human concept.

Reading The Durable Human Manifesto  takes about ten minures.  Download a copy directly for free here (no email signup required) or buy it in print on Amazon.

Learn more about  the author on Google+

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