Is Your Car Making You Fat?
How to break the drive-everywhere habit
A Walking City
Brian Gabrial, PhD, got rid of his car when he moved from Minneapolis for a
job in Montreal a year ago. It wasn't a sacrifice. Even in Minneapolis, he
often left his car at home, preferring to walk and ride the bus.
"In Montreal, practically everybody uses mass transit," he says.
"All bus lines feed into the subway system, making it possible to get
anywhere in the city, and it's cheap. I buy a one-month pass for the equivalent
of $50 U.S."
Most days he walks the 1 1/2 miles from his apartment to Concordia
University, where he's an assistant professor of journalism. In bad weather, he
takes the bus.
The biggest hardship? "It's not practical if you're buying a lot of
groceries," he tells WebMD. "On the other hand, most stores will
In a city where pedestrians are the norm rather than a novelty, crossing
streets is safe, says Gabrial. "Also, in Montreal drivers can't turn right
on a red light," he says.
Several years ago, the 53-year-old professor decided to substitute walking
for running due to knee injuries. He walks for exercise as well as for getting
around his neighborhood.
"It definitely contributes to my ability to manage weight," he says.
"I don't have to diet. But I also subscribe to the algebra theory of
living, so if I'm shoveling a lot of junk into my mouth, I need to walk more or
spend more time in the gym."
He adds, "There aren't a lot of fat people here."