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Is Your Car Making You Fat?

How to break the drive-everywhere habit
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A Matter of Mindset

We live in a nation with the world's lowest gas prices. Many of us are in the habit of driving or riding everywhere. So if your car is sabotaging your weight control efforts, what can you do?

"Get into the mindset of 'I could walk that,'" says Susan Moores, RD. "Something like 80% of our car trips are 1 mile or less. We need to stop and think about walking or biking to buy stamps or pick up a movie." She adds that rising gas prices might help us do just that.

Experts say there's a definite correlation between walking and weight management.

"It depends on the type of walking you do," says Moores. "Walking to or from your car probably has little effect, but if you're walking ... for more than three minutes, it has a positive effect. Also, walk briskly, so you feel somewhat breathless but can still carry on a conversation."

Help! I Live in Suburbia

How easy it is to get out of your car and walk often depends on where you live.

"Some places, it just isn't safe," says Moores. "Drivers aren't used to seeing bike riders or pedestrians. They're preoccupied with talking on their phones."

Still, it isn't a lost cause, she tells WebMD. She offers these tips for walking more wherever you are:

  • Park some distance from work or from a store and walk the rest of the way.
  • Park on the perimeter of every parking lot you use.
  • Use stairs instead of elevators.
  • Walk for 15 minutes at lunchtime.
  • Try to walk 15 minutes every three hours during your workday. "The blood will go to your brain and make you more productive," she says.
  • If you love to shop, do a couple of laps around the mall before strolling through the shops.
  • Wear a pedometer. "It puts a number to your accomplishments so you can track your progress," Moores says.

 

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