In our modern times, the world we live in is scarred by endless amounts of asphalt gouging its way through nature. Roads, runways and railroads all lie as reminders of our never-ending quest for easing our difficult lives.
We take escalators instead of stairs, buses instead of bikes and then we complain about pollution and ‘those’ people who don’t care about the planet. I am definitely not an ardent advocate of the green movement, I like going on holiday, electricity and cars too much however it doesn’t take too much effort to make your carbon footprint smaller.
When people are on television or overweight ‘environmentalists’ are handing out leaflets on the street about saving the environment, an automatic response for most of us is to block them out or listen begrudgingly. I always find myself asking, do they all cycle to work, do they all take the stairs? I’m going to hazard a guess and say probably not.
Okay, so maybe I’m being slightly unfair but my point is this: the United Kingdom has one of the highest obesity rates in the whole of Europe so surely getting rid of unnecessary comforts, such as taking your car everywhere and escalators (who needs an escalator?), would result in a greener United Kingdom with lower obesity rates.
I was in Austria earlier this year and they had electric buses and the abundance of bicycles was astounding. People seemed to cycle everywhere. Cycling is cheaper than driving, keeps you fit, and simultaneously saves the environment. Is there anything this magical two wheeled beast can’t do? Probably not. Austria’s obesity rate is significantly lower than the United Kingdom’s; Austria’s carbon footprint is also significantly lower than ours, so I’m going to say that this is not a coincidence. Although the fact that Austria has both lower obesity rates and a lower carbon footprint is unlikely to solely be down to their love of the bicycle, an overall healthier lifestyle could certainly be a contributing factor.
Ultimately, the United Kingdom needs to get off their heavy backsides and start cycling, walking, running, taking the stairs and looking after the environment. Walking has been proven to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other diseases and all you need is a decent pair of shoes. If you walk for just half an hour, you can generally burn around 99 calories.
Living in a city is absolutely no excuse for not being able to go for walk; you can walk to uni or even just to the shop instead of taking the car or bus. If that isn’t possible, there’s a handy app called ‘walkit’ that helps you plan an urban walking route, it works out both the calories you’ve burned and the distance you’ve walked.
Although there are a lot of different contributing factors to obesity rates in the United Kingdom, it is undeniable that regular moderate exercise would help to contribute to a thinner, healthier nation. Also, it seems that by walking rather than using other means of transport can only help to save the environment. Austria is a good example to follow as they have both lower obesity rates and a lower carbon footprint.
It therefore seems that although there are other factors contributing to obesity and pollution, the fact is that regular exercise is good at reducing levels of both. So next time you go to step on an escalator ask yourself how much more effort it would actually be to take the stairs, or you could even start walking to work or uni and burn calories rather than fuel.