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Car-driven society poses health risk for Americans

June 1, 2009

0506_car09Last winter, I saw a woman drive her SUV to the end of the driveway – a driveway that was no more than 150 ft long.  Her child got out of the vehicle and boarded the school bus.  Mind you, it was not snowing and the driveway was not encrusted in ice.   How much lazier can we get as a society?

By Matthew Bigg Matthew Bigg Fri May 29, 8:46 am ET

ATLANTA (Reuters) – When Seema Shrikhande goes to work, she drives. When she takes her son to school, they drive. And when she goes shopping, to the bank or to visit friends, she gets into her car, buckles up and hits the road.

Driving is a way of life for Americans but researchers say the national habit of driving everywhere is bad for health.  The more you drive, the less you walk. Walking provides exercise without really trying.

Ideally, people should take 10,000 steps a day to maintain wellness, according to James Hill, professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado.

Car dependence makes it harder to get the 75 minutes of intense weekly exercise or the 150 minutes of moderate exercise the government recommends, said Dr. Dianna Densmore of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lawrence Frank of the University of British Columbia has even quantified the link between the distance people drive each day and their body weight.  “Every additional 30 minutes spent in a car each day translates into a 3 percent greater chance of being obese,” he said.

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