I spent the last week in NYC and Boston.
Two cities with significant population, but very different in one major way. Percentage of people with vehicles.
New York is a city of its own in the US. No other city holds a candle to this city by way of population, and definitely nowhere near its density. By comparison, NYC is 8.5M people within the city. LA at 160 sq. mi. larger in size, is only 3.9M people, Chicago is 2.7M. These numbers come from an estimate of the inter city population, where another common measure is CSA (combined statistical area) which is basically the total area that has significant economic linkage. Woodstock is linked to Atlanta for example.
When we look at this ranking, Boston makes it up to number 6 on the list. Though it was 23 on the list for largest “incorporated” area. When we get to the total CSA, these two cities are not far apart… well, they are in raw number, and more importantly for the discussion at hand, they are as they relate to health motivation.
A city where vehicles make no sense.
I took to the streets of NY early one morning, in search of a cup of coffee. I didn’t want to stay in the hotel, but I wanted to go get into the life of the city. I hit the streets, and felt the life that exudes from walking. Every light change, droves of people made their way across third and 45th, 50-75 people per light, all walking at an intense clip to get to their jobs. I found myself wondering, how far have they gone to get to here. Did they get off at a subway station, which they walked to from their home, and then now were walking to their final destination… or in some cases making their way into the subway station.
I personally love the city. I love the country too, and enjoy that last night I spent 90 minutes at a barn with my daughter, running her through training drills to improve her dressage scores on her horse. But, I love the city. One key thing I love is this bend towards activity. The fact that so many people are moving early and often. And that is more valuable, right there… moving EARLY and OFTEN. I commonly put down typical walking as boring and somewhat useless. But there are a few advantages that can be gained from living life like a city slicker.
Early – there is so much value to getting your metabolism up as early as possible. Get up and begin working out, do something, get your heart rate up, and move. Walking a mile at a fast pace is not in itself a great way to “lose” weight, or “maintain” weight, but when it is simply one of your daily first actions, it is invaluable.
Often – to think about hitting the street multiple times a day as a mode of transport. And never the place that you want to sit still… this is your wasted time if you live in the city, so you are urgently trying to get from one location to another… morning, noon, night. The push into your metabolic function is a great way to keep your body fat under control, your energy levels up, and your mood elevated.
Next – the food. Man, if there is one place that will cater to all levels of concern over food, it is a city. I saw more organic signs, and markets with easy access. Whole foods on the corner of Bryant park was a favorite for us. Such a quick access whole foods… quick walk, jump in to grab some groceries, stop over at Bryant park, see the library, run back to the hotel, if time was pressed, grab an uber, but take the long walk out to the show that night.
Pret a Manger was one cool market that I enjoyed. Hot and cold, clean and not so clean, but mostly clean (organic, low sugar, etc). This place was always busy, and always open it seemed.
This cool place was only minutes from times square. Which all brought me to the place where I am now. Hopeful to be able to influence the outcome of downtown Woodstock so that it too has health intertwined with conventional. With healthier options right in the middle of the city, so that as it develops, it takes on a walk-able characteristic, with options for healthier daily foods.
But for now, lets take a page from the city trip, and get ourselves to move more often, spiking our heart rate some multiple times a day, and to seek out easy access to healthier food choices, and not settling for whatever is convenient. The more we choose healthier, the more we will force it to become convenient.
Be well an Be blessed! – Dr. E