Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Skinny people everywhere!

So I just got back from San Francisco. Using the fabulous gmaps hack, the Google pedometer, my mom and I figured out we walked at least five miles every day, and that's up and down some very big hills. Yesterday at the airport my mom turned to me and said "did you realize we didn't see a single really overweight person while we were here?"

I thought back and it was true. Now granted, San Francisco is probably not unique--in all urban areas where one can walk a lot and have access to high quality food, obesity rates are likely lower. But I would posit that the added strain of the major hills in SF definitely contributes to a slimmer population :).

I was very proud of my mom, who is just over 60, and handled the hills like a champ, including Filbert Street, one of the steepest hills in the Northern Hemisphere. I think I've been blessed with a pretty darn good gene pool. Hardy farmer stock on one side, hardy Jewish peasant stock on the other. When my maternal grandparents passed away they were over 90, and my paternal grandparents are both alive, which is pretty amazing. 

I love the phrase "genes load the gun, environment pulls the trigger." Walking is my favourite form of exercise and I usually live in very urban, easily walkable areas. I have also never been overweight (even though I ate a lot of crap in high school and the first part of college). Whatever genetic hand you've been dealt, environment has a huge amount to do with how your genetic code is expressed. 

I still believe what and how much you eat is by far the biggest factor. But the difference between having to walk a mile to and from the grocery store every day and having to drive because there are no sidewalks where you live can make a big difference. My running joke is that I am in good shape now because I live on a hill and I have to go down and up it no matter what if I want food. Obviously, I could get take out every night (back to the what and how much part) or have my groceries delivered. No matter what, today one needs to make a conscious effort to get exercise. But certain environments absolutely make it easier. As does the fact that I am usually too cheap to use Peapod or get crappy takeout ;)


Dommi said...

Haha. Here's to being too cheap to use Peapod or get crappy takeout! I agree with you; you have to make a very conscious effort to get exercise in today's society. In many cities, it seems the local government has done everything possible to actually prevent you from moving more.

Glad you had fun in San Fran... I've always wanted to visit there; as a runner, I dreeeam about those kinds of hills!

(I found your blog through April's. I love what the two of you write!)

Sara said...

I was amazed when I lived in C0 (eek, a decade ago) that I was the only person in the entire town who walked to the grocery store; it took 10 minutes, max... on roads. But this was in a "new town". Wandering around the established cities - SF, NY, to a lesser extent Boston - was far easier to do on foot. Strange. I love SF. You are so lucky to be moving there!

Cave Cooking said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cave Cooking said...

I have to say, I actually enjoyed the hills, masochist that I am. It's like built in interval training going up and down :)