By John Toth
I’m walking down one of the streets in Driveland U.S.A., where not too many people walk.
I’m noticing that a lot of people driving by are … well, how can I put this politely? They are plump. Some more than others. Not all, mind you, but many.
Despite only making up five per cent of the world’s population, the United States accounts for almost a third of the world’s weight due to obesity.
In contrast, Asia has 61 percent of the world’s population but only 13 percent of the world’s weight due to obesity.
I have a great idea. Let’s walk, ride bikes, walk up stairs – for starters. My favorite one is walking. Not only is it healthy, but I also come across some interesting encounters.
I’m walking down the street, like I do many mornings, on my way to the recreation center. A car loaded with teen-agers drives by, and one of the teens starts waving.
I don’t know who he is. I wave back out of courtesy. The car then makes a turn, and the same teen flips me the bird.
The car turns into a driveway a half block down the street. In a minute, I am walking by the driveway and respond to the the gesture in the most adult way I could think of at that particular moment.
Which of the options did I choose?
A) I smiled at them and said hello;
B) I chided them about not being polite;
C) I flipped them back.
Which one do you think? I’ll give you three guesses, and the first two don’t count.
I am a pedestrian in a world of cars. There are not many of us using the sidewalks around this town.
Some of the people around here would drive to the bathroom if they could, no matter what gas costs.
People around here stay in the drive-through lane at a fast food restraurant at lunch time for 20 minutes rather than to go into the restraurant and order. I’m usually in and out in five minutes with take-out.
Walking to the recreation center, working out and walking back makes me feel good, even though I’m sweating in the heat.
And when I pass by someone, I say hi. It’s the polite thing to do. In a big city that would be weird. I have lived in big cities. I never said hi to anyone. But in Driveland, it’s the norm. Most people respond politely, except for the bird flipper.
I sometimes pass by an older man walking two dogs. I don’t know the man’s name, and I may not see him for weeks. But when I do, we are polite, and I usually make some small-talk about the dogs.
I walk by a field where a jackass and horses graze. Some come right up to the fence, ready to be petted. The jackass is my favorite. After I walk back home, I tell everyone that I ran into a real ass.
One of the best parts about walking in Driveland is that drivers are not used to pedestrians. They are more courteous to me when I walk than when I drive. Maybe they feel sorry for me because I am walking.
Several drivers have stopped to offer me rides. “I’m just walking to the gym, but thanks.” That’s nice of them, though.
Studies show that regular brisk walking can reduce your chances of a heart attack. It’s a no-pain way of staying ahead of the curb.
And, quoting the Mayo Clinic, walking also does the following.
• Lowers low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol).
• Raises high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol).
• Lowers your blood pressure.
• Reduces your risk of or manages type 2 diabetes.
• Manages your weight.
• Improves your mood.
I have probably got you so riled up by now that you’re heading out the door for a long, brisk walk.