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Originally published April 6 2008

Walk Instead of Drive for Your Health

by Stephanie Brail

(NaturalNews) In times of ever-climbing gas prices, looking for ways to reduce fuel consumption can not only be good for your pocketbook, but your health. Walking instead of driving is one way to lower your fuel expenses while improving your health and well-being.

Did you know that a 150 pound person walking briskly can burn an average of 320 calories per hour? So what would you rather do, burn $4 per gallon of gas or 320 calories per hour?

Walking not only burns calories, it improves circulation and enhances cardiovascular health. Walking can lower your bad cholesterol and increase your good cholesterol. If you are diabetic or in danger of becoming so, walking can help your body process sugar more efficiently. Walking help keeps you strong, reducing the risk of accidental falls as you age. Additionally, walking can elevate the mood and spirits. For more on the health benefits of walking, see ( .

Driving, on the other hand, can be detrimental to your health. Driving is sedentary, and does not provide any benefit to the muscles. It can be stressful, as evidenced by "road rage." Driving can also cause or exacerbate respiratory problems, because drivers are inhaling the tailpipe fumes of the cars in front of them. (Pedestrians walking on the sidewalk do not inhale as much air pollution as drivers do.)

Unfortunately, much of our infrastructure in America is geared toward driving, not walking. Many suburban neighborhoods don't even bother to build sidewalks. This sprawl is not only bad for our environment but bad for your waistline. It forces you to get into your car each and every time you need to go somewhere.

If you live in an area where you can walk to local stores and businesses, try to make an effort to walk instead of drive. Understandably, there are times when you may feel you need a car in order to carry things home, but consider also the alternatives.

For example, instead of taking one huge trip to the grocery store where you purchase a cartload of items that you need a car to transport, take more frequent walking trips to the store where you buy only that which you can physically carry home.

If you are going to carry bags home with you, a good rule of thumb is buy only that which can fit into a hand-held grocery basket. If you need to purchase more groceries (say for your family), you might bring your spouse or kids with you and have them help. You can also find sturdy collapsible hand carts online for under $30; some can carry up to 80 pounds and may even have a built-in seat you can rest on while you are waiting in line.

If there are no stores within walking distance, plan your car trips to places where you can get a lot of errands done with just one park of your car. Find one shopping center where you can complete all your errands without having to drive to each and every stop.

Have you ever noticed how some people park their cars on one end of a big parking lot, then get into their cars and drive to the other end of the parking lot just to get closer to the next store on the list? Unless you are purchasing a large item like a big screen television, stop wasting gas driving around a parking lot. Park your car once and walk the rest of the way. It won't kill you.

Walking the distance of a long parking lot may seem daunting at first, but that's only because you are not used to it. The more you walk, the shorter distances seem. You can gradually build up your stamina by walking regularly and adding distance as you progress. Eventually, walking a mile or two will not seem like a big deal. Wear some headphones; make it enjoyable.

Consider walking in your local mall. Many malls actually have "mall walker" programs to encourage groups to walk at the mall. You can walk in a group and make friends as you go. (Of course, it would be best if you did not need to drive to the mall to do your walking, but it's a step.)

Ideally, find a place to live where you can walk more. The next time you purchase or rent a home, consider its sprawl-factor. Is there anything within walking distance (other than other houses or freeway)? Can you walk to the store? Could you walk to a local area for entertainment and shopping?

Living near commercial businesses does not mean you need to live in a dangerous or congested urban environment. Many smaller communities have quaint, walkable downtowns that are safe and pedestrian-friendly. While sometimes the rent or mortgage may be a little higher, consider the high costs of driving as well as the toll on your health. Consider also the negative environmental impact of the suburban lifestyle. Walking then, becomes something you don't just do for your own health, but for the health of the planet.

About the author

Stephanie Brail is a wellness coach, healer and hypnotherapist. She provides information and perspectives on alternative health, well-being, spirituality, and more at

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