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Does where you live influence your weight & fitness?

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Replies

  • SuzySunshine99
    SuzySunshine99 Posts: 2,876 Member
    edited July 2021
    To be honest, I do not enjoy being outside in areas with a lot of people, traffic, pollution, trash, noise, crime, etc.

    I walk a lot, but it's not really an efficient form of exercise for me.

    That's why I said I personally would be more active if I lived in a more rural place, with peaceful natural areas that would encourage me to spend more time outside.
  • Jcmhfp
    Jcmhfp Posts: 13 Member
    edited July 2021
    Suburbs are generally not friendly to walking, cycling, or being alive. Let's not confuse them with the city, though. If a city is a family run Indian restaurant, the suburbs are Olive Garden.

    Ha, that metaphor.... So, technically I live in a place that functions as a bedroom community but I do have a plethora of "family run Indian restaurants" in walking distance, as well as all the usual Olive Garden-esque chains. We call this area "the suburbs" here but it really isn't the endless sprawl that you see in a lot of North American cities; it is arguably more liveable but still has some of the negative traits! The Greater Vancouver region overall is geographically too small and boxed in by mountains, sea, and essential farmland to allow proper distance between rural, suburban, and city center spaces to form. I can drive 8 minutes and be in agricultural lands (ride horses, pick blueberries, visit wineries, walk in the watershed or beaches), or I could go in another direction for the same time and hit more residential sameness, or drive a little longer and hit one of many urban centers. Not sure if Portland or Seattle have similar patchwork layouts, despite sharing some geographical characteristics.

    People tend to be healthier and less obese in this region than other provinces in Canada, and I believe the abundance of choices this location offers + the (comparatively) mild climate plays a role in that. But people are generally pretty fit and healthy in rural BC communities too, despite the distances they need to travel; a lot of small towns here are rooted in labour-intensive primary sector jobs (forestry, mining, energy).
    Occupation (hours, physical intensity, commute time, etc) and socioeconomic factors play a huge role in shaping health and fitness. Work is where most of us spend the majority of our waking hours and the environment there is maybe just as important as the layout and limitations of the specific geographical location you reside in.
  • Speakeasy76
    Speakeasy76 Posts: 960 Member
    Interesting article related to this thread. Didn't know so many drunks in TX and WI. Wow.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/food/2018/05/15/the-drunkest-and-driest-cities-in-america/34901003/

    Oh yeah, in Wisconsin, bars outnumber grocery stores 3-to-1.
    Add in the cheese and bratwurst, and it's probably not the healthiest of states.
    We love to vacation there, though...there's some beautiful areas...just stay off the roads on a Saturday night.

    That said, I think I'd be healthier if I lived in Wisconsin...I enjoy outdoor activities, and there's more opportunity for that there as opposed to the dense urban environment in which I currently live.

    Now I think the opposite to some degree when it comes to dense urban environments. I live in downtown Chicago and the short distances encourage walking or biking for everyday stuff as opposed to getting in a car. And I kinda think your day to day burn is more important than one off deliberate exercise.

    I mean, I could see how that would make an impact, having lived in Chicago myself for 4 years (Lakeview area). However, my job requires me to use my car for some of it, so taking a train wasn't even an option. I rarely used my car for non-work reasons in the city if I could avoid it, though.

    In my case, living in the city didn't raise my TDEE, and if it did, I was eating and drinking more because of all the plentiful restaurants and bars within walking distance (especially since I was in my early-mid 20's and single when living there). I now live in a far-northern relatively small suburb that isn't necessarily conducive to walking to restaurants and shopping, even if it was plentiful nearby. However, there are lots of walking trails, forest preserves and paths for more recreational walking and bike riding...including one just across the street from my back yard, that connects to multiple paths. It's not one of those overly crowded suburbs, and my kids' school is right by farmland. Because of my overall lifestyle choices AND more emphasis on healthy/less eating, smart strength training and more consciousness to raise my TDEE, I'm in much better shape than I was when I lived in Chicago 20 years ago.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,968 Member
    As a Seattle dweller, it's easier to walk than it is to find parking, and it takes less time thanks to traffic.
  • MargaretYakoda
    MargaretYakoda Posts: 1,944 Member
    As a Seattle dweller, it's easier to walk than it is to find parking, and it takes less time thanks to traffic.

    Can confirm.
    My daughter in law is legally blind. And this is exactly the reason why my son and her have decided not to live in Podunk Olympic Peninsula, but in the Seattle Tacoma metro area. Ease of access.
  • lemurcat2
    lemurcat2 Posts: 7,894 Member
    As a Seattle dweller, it's easier to walk than it is to find parking, and it takes less time thanks to traffic.

    That's usually the case in Chicago as well. It's also why public transit is normally preferable to driving for a commute IME.
  • Theoldguy1
    Theoldguy1 Posts: 2,276 Member
    edited July 2021
    Our subdivision on the edge of town in a 150k person university community is set up pretty nice for activity. There is one main road through the center (not super busy, mainly subdivision traffic and people going out to the country), with 2 big loops off of it surrounding a municipal golf course, about 5 miles total around the loops. There is a sidewalk on one side of the street though the whole neighborhood, traffic light in the subdivision, just residents, visitors and deliveries. As you exit the subdivision you can cross a road and access a paved multipurpose trail that is about 45 miles in total throughout the community.

    Pretty bike and walker/runner friendly for exercise.
  • MikePfirrman
    MikePfirrman Posts: 3,264 Member
    edited July 2021
    Theoldguy1 wrote: »
    Our subdivision on the edge of town in a 150k person university community is set up pretty nice for activity. There is one main road through the center (not super busy, mainly subdivision traffic and people going out to the country), with 2 big loops off of it surrounding a municipal golf course, about 5 miles total around the loops. There is a sidewalk on one side of the street though the whole neighborhood, traffic light in the subdivision, just residents, visitors and deliveries. As you exit the subdivision you can cross a road and access a paved multipurpose trail that is about 45 miles in total throughout the community.

    Pretty bike and walker/runner friendly for exercise.

    Bike friendly helps a ton. I moved from Cincinnati to Tucson, which has a 50 mile "Loop Trail" that connects nearly the entire city and is off the road if you don't feel safe biking the roads. And around here, with all the older folks driving, it's not a bad idea to stay off the roads.

    Cincy was terrible on the streets, but they also had a nice bike trail (actually a great one, though weather only allowed its use like five months out of the year) through town. I never used it as much there, because it was further from my home.
  • Walkywalkerson
    Walkywalkerson Posts: 453 Member
    I haven't read the thread so sorry if I'm repeating anything.
    I'm in the UK in a small city with a lot of green space etc ..
    It is unusual to see very obese people here - the majority are of a normal weight.
    Of course fast food is available but it is balanced with a lot of healthier options because there is a high demand for it.
  • MargaretYakoda
    MargaretYakoda Posts: 1,944 Member
    I haven't read the thread so sorry if I'm repeating anything.
    I'm in the UK in a small city with a lot of green space etc ..
    It is unusual to see very obese people here - the majority are of a normal weight.
    Of course fast food is available but it is balanced with a lot of healthier options because there is a high demand for it.

    Hey. I have a question.

    I live in the US. I’ve lived in a few different areas over the years. And even in the urban areas there were few parks compared to where I lived in British Columbia.
    What parks there are will have a running track, usually. But as far as exercise equipment? That’s about it.

    OK soccer fields and tennis courts exist.

    But not balance beams and chin up bars, like I saw frequently in BC.

    Also? In BC there was a little neighborhood park everywhere as far as I could see. In the urban and suburban areas, anyhow.

    I developed the idea that since healthcare was paid for by the government, it was in the best interest of the government to provide as much opportunity to exercise as they could.

    So. My question: Are there little parks within easy walking distance in urban and suburban areas in the UK? Parks with things like chin up bars and balance beams?
  • callsitlikeiseeit
    callsitlikeiseeit Posts: 8,633 Member
    I haven't read through all the comments, though I may later.

    I think it does, absolutely but i think theres more to it, too.

    Education, income (means), time (to shop/ prepare meals), availability of goods all factor into it.

    Take where I live. Chase City Virginia. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chase_City,_Virginia) - If you want a snapshot into the armpit of nowhere....

    Very small, southern, rural town. It should just be called Chase because there is no city here.

    population (including outlying areas, like where I am - just shy of 2500 people. Average FAMILY income - $32K. Makes our income of $100K look like the freaking Rockerfellers. I have multiple degrees. Hubby moved from Canada a couple of years ago to marry me (bless him for that sacrifice lol) and is a union sheet metal foreman. We have a small farm on top of that.

    Education here is poor. GOOD jobs here... rare. Plenty of jobs, but most in retail or food service. Go a bit further out from our town (I'll give a 45 minute radius) and you have more opportunities. But even when there are good jobs... people here, don't want to work. Solar farms are being installed outside of town and they had a job fair to hire workers. Good pay (for the area). $15-20/hour. over 4 days? 2 people showed up. TWO.

    Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

    Here in town we have ONE grocery store. A Chain store. nothing special. walmart is 30 minutes away. Go in. All you see, and I am quite serious when I say this, is overweight people with carts full of frozen prepared foods, hamburger helper, and sodas. carts literally overflowing with sodas. hanging off the sides. and beer. dont forget the beer. very very few people of 'normal' weight.

    The first thing you see when you walk in are displays of junk food that are on sale. And then you see junk food highly visible throughout the ENTIRE store.

    The produce section is TINY. And... sad. truly. the quality is sad. I get most of my produce from my best friend's garden, honestly. What I can't get from her, we take day trips to a larger town (we call it going to 'civilization') to go shopping for things we can't get locally. But many, if not most, people here can't afford to do that. They don't have cars, or can't afford the gas, or can't afford the time, or simply can't afford the higher prices in cities (or suburbs of them, where we go) like Raleigh or Richmond (we are halfway between the two).

    The store, I am sure, focuses on what SELLS. They are in it to make money. We care for a gentleman who has celiac and the GF section is abysmally small. I can find much more in the larger cities for him. Finding gourmet items of any kind? Nope. Not gonna happen. I cant even buy BEAN SPROUTS here. I am not joking.

    If you compare our household and my best friend's - so two families with similar income and education (College educated and ~$100K) to those in the area with an 'area typical' education and income (which would be HS diploma and under $35K for a family) - I am pretty sure you would find that how they shop, cook, and live in general would be vastly different. my best friend and i make almost everything from scratch. it is cheaper to do so in most cases and is better for you (which is really why we both do it). we are both very active. she is like... super mom even though our kids are in high school and i have the farm that keeps me busy. then we both have the local theater that is the bane of our existence. we dont buy sodas ( i admit i used to but dont now- a med im on make them taste horrible lol), we dont buy much in the way of prepackaged foods other than snacks for our teen boys- but certainly not for meals, we dont do hamburger helper type stuff, etc). We dont watch hours of television every day, etc...)

    I obviously can't speak for how active people are that I dont even know, but I do know that the other active people i know (who also typically eat reasonably healthy, as best I know, anyway) are of similar socioeconomic backgrounds as us.

    i hope my rambling nonsense made ... sense. But I do think that where we live can influence how we live but maybe more so than that, who we are AROUND can influence how we live. Active people tend to gravitate towards active people. Those who live a healthier lifestyle tend to want to be around those who live a healthier lifestyle. It's if nothing else, a shared interest thing.



  • wunderkindking
    wunderkindking Posts: 1,616 Member
    I haven't read through all the comments, though I may later.

    I think it does, absolutely but i think theres more to it, too.

    Education, income (means), time (to shop/ prepare meals), availability of goods all factor into it.

    Take where I live. Chase City Virginia. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chase_City,_Virginia) - If you want a snapshot into the armpit of nowhere....

    Very small, southern, rural town. It should just be called Chase because there is no city here.

    population (including outlying areas, like where I am - just shy of 2500 people. Average FAMILY income - $32K. Makes our income of $100K look like the freaking Rockerfellers. I have multiple degrees. Hubby moved from Canada a couple of years ago to marry me (bless him for that sacrifice lol) and is a union sheet metal foreman. We have a small farm on top of that.

    Education here is poor. GOOD jobs here... rare. Plenty of jobs, but most in retail or food service. Go a bit further out from our town (I'll give a 45 minute radius) and you have more opportunities. But even when there are good jobs... people here, don't want to work. Solar farms are being installed outside of town and they had a job fair to hire workers. Good pay (for the area). $15-20/hour. over 4 days? 2 people showed up. TWO.

    Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

    Here in town we have ONE grocery store. A Chain store. nothing special. walmart is 30 minutes away. Go in. All you see, and I am quite serious when I say this, is overweight people with carts full of frozen prepared foods, hamburger helper, and sodas. carts literally overflowing with sodas. hanging off the sides. and beer. dont forget the beer. very very few people of 'normal' weight.

    The first thing you see when you walk in are displays of junk food that are on sale. And then you see junk food highly visible throughout the ENTIRE store.

    The produce section is TINY. And... sad. truly. the quality is sad. I get most of my produce from my best friend's garden, honestly. What I can't get from her, we take day trips to a larger town (we call it going to 'civilization') to go shopping for things we can't get locally. But many, if not most, people here can't afford to do that. They don't have cars, or can't afford the gas, or can't afford the time, or simply can't afford the higher prices in cities (or suburbs of them, where we go) like Raleigh or Richmond (we are halfway between the two).

    The store, I am sure, focuses on what SELLS. They are in it to make money. We care for a gentleman who has celiac and the GF section is abysmally small. I can find much more in the larger cities for him. Finding gourmet items of any kind? Nope. Not gonna happen. I cant even buy BEAN SPROUTS here. I am not joking.

    If you compare our household and my best friend's - so two families with similar income and education (College educated and ~$100K) to those in the area with an 'area typical' education and income (which would be HS diploma and under $35K for a family) - I am pretty sure you would find that how they shop, cook, and live in general would be vastly different. my best friend and i make almost everything from scratch. it is cheaper to do so in most cases and is better for you (which is really why we both do it). we are both very active. she is like... super mom even though our kids are in high school and i have the farm that keeps me busy. then we both have the local theater that is the bane of our existence. we dont buy sodas ( i admit i used to but dont now- a med im on make them taste horrible lol), we dont buy much in the way of prepackaged foods other than snacks for our teen boys- but certainly not for meals, we dont do hamburger helper type stuff, etc). We dont watch hours of television every day, etc...)

    I obviously can't speak for how active people are that I dont even know, but I do know that the other active people i know (who also typically eat reasonably healthy, as best I know, anyway) are of similar socioeconomic backgrounds as us.

    i hope my rambling nonsense made ... sense. But I do think that where we live can influence how we live but maybe more so than that, who we are AROUND can influence how we live. Active people tend to gravitate towards active people. Those who live a healthier lifestyle tend to want to be around those who live a healthier lifestyle. It's if nothing else, a shared interest thing.



    This is also true for my area.

    Another factor is that when the job you can get pays very little you often have more than one per person, and 'opposing hours'. So in addition to financial cost of getting to better supermarkets you have a time sink in getting to those further afield stores and the time cost of cooking the food.

    Which means it may be doable but painful and exhausting, especially if you have small kids - and are working 2 jobs at strange hours and aren't all that healthy (due to finances to pay for the medical care, time to go, and/or what you've been eating).

    Stuff's hard.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,277 Member
    Suburbs are generally not friendly to walking, cycling, or being alive. Let's not confuse them with the city, though. If a city is a family run Indian restaurant, the suburbs are Olive Garden.

    I think it depends. Greater Albuquerque is crap for being pedestrian friendly or cycling friendly. The only places that are walkable to anything are the university/Nob Hill area and downtown. In these areas you can walk or bike to a plethora of restaurants and bars and other shops. The rest of the city is urban sprawl personified. Albuquerque does have a great multi use trail system though...but most people have to drive to an access point to use it. And there's great mountain biking in the foothills as well as a bit further north in Placitas.

    I live in a small village suburb of Abq that is plenty walkable and bikeable as well as horse rideable. We regularly walk or bike to main street and "downtown" to hit up a restaurant or the Ex Novo brewery. "Downtown" consists of about 5 restaurants, the brewery, several galleries, a corner store (which interestingly sells some really good fresh produce), and a few other odds and ends shops. We rode to Ex Novo last Saturday night for our anniversary to have a couple beers and some Tikka food truck food and another couple road up in their horse and wagon and I could only think...only in Corrales.
  • Walkywalkerson
    Walkywalkerson Posts: 453 Member
    I haven't read the thread so sorry if I'm repeating anything.
    I'm in the UK in a small city with a lot of green space etc ..
    It is unusual to see very obese people here - the majority are of a normal weight.
    Of course fast food is available but it is balanced with a lot of healthier options because there is a high demand for it.

    Hey. I have a question.

    I live in the US. I’ve lived in a few different areas over the years. And even in the urban areas there were few parks compared to where I lived in British Columbia.
    What parks there are will have a running track, usually. But as far as exercise equipment? That’s about it.

    OK soccer fields and tennis courts exist.

    But not balance beams and chin up bars, like I saw frequently in BC.

    Also? In BC there was a little neighborhood park everywhere as far as I could see. In the urban and suburban areas, anyhow.

    I developed the idea that since healthcare was paid for by the government, it was in the best interest of the government to provide as much opportunity to exercise as they could.

    So. My question: Are there little parks within easy walking distance in urban and suburban areas in the UK? Parks with things like chin up bars and balance beams?

    It depends where you live
    I live in the Shires so there are a lot of green spaces, cycle paths and parks with exercise equipment like you mentioned.
    Even in Central London there are parks and green spaces - these things are accessible for most people as most places are a short tube or bus ride away.
    The Government also offer subsidised gym memberships for people on low income.
    I think there are a lot of reasons people are very overweight and having the 'right environment' is a poor excuse.
    Fasting is free , exercising at home or outside in nature is free.
    Walking or cycling to the shop that sells fresh food is free.
    A fast food habit to sustain a 300 lb person is probably more expensive than buying fresh food.



  • Turtlemummy
    Turtlemummy Posts: 71 Member
    I don't usually post but this caught my attention. I'm also in the UK. I live in the countryside but even the nearest village has 2 parks. The smallish towns have at least 3 each. Urban and suburban housing areas usually have at least a children's play area within walking distance.

    Going back to the OP, I find the topic really interesting. I'm not so sure precise location defines weight and fitness, but definitely the social environment can. Not via peer pressure, but I think more due to, as already mentioned, the human desire to "belong" and the herd mentality. I know subconsciously I pay more attention to my weight and fitness if I hang out with slim friends, or others watching their own weight. (no of course I don't choose my friends like that, it's just sthg I've noticed). I recently moved work location (same job) to a base where keeping fit and maintaining a healthy weight is more the norm amongst the workforce, and noone bats an eyelid if I refuse a slice of cake etc. Of course nothing forces anyone to give into temptation, but it's a lot easier when there are more like minded people.
    These days though, social environment does not have to be physical. Websites and community forums can, to a certain extent, replace an "unhelpful" physical environment. I am a member of an online running community where it's totally normal to run 15-20 miles, or more, a week. That's not normal amongst any of my real life friends, so it gives me that sense of normality and motivation. Reading stories and posts here does similar for calorie counting and weight loss.
  • Walkywalkerson
    Walkywalkerson Posts: 453 Member
    I agree with Turtlemummy that herd mentality is definitely an influence.
    I just read an article from a newspaper that stated people in the States consider a 30 minute walk too far!
    I find that unbelievable and no wonder obesity is an epidemic there!
    I'll try and post the link.
  • tnh2o
    tnh2o Posts: 146 Member
    @callsitlikeiseeit You live in a metropolis! My town is population 1200. For a while I lived outside of "town" with no cell service and 25 miles from the nearest traffic light. Lots of obesity but access to great produce. The Mennonites have a farm market here.
    Pre covid I hiked the Cotswolds in the UK. Afternoon tea was a delight. The baked goods were delicious but much less sweet and better tasting than what is available in the U.S.
  • callsitlikeiseeit
    callsitlikeiseeit Posts: 8,633 Member
    tnh2o wrote: »
    @callsitlikeiseeit You live in a metropolis! My town is population 1200. For a while I lived outside of "town" with no cell service and 25 miles from the nearest traffic light. Lots of obesity but access to great produce. The Mennonites have a farm market here.
    Pre covid I hiked the Cotswolds in the UK. Afternoon tea was a delight. The baked goods were delicious but much less sweet and better tasting than what is available in the U.S.

    I think in town limits the population is 600 something. 2 stoplights. Don't know that either one is actually needed. LOL