Passeggiata those calories away

burning calories without fancy gym clothes

Summer is the absolute ideal time to move more.  The days are longer, the evenings are cooler, and it’s the perfect time for an evening stroll.  Plenty of cultures around the world have a tradition of everyone taking an evening stroll.  It Italy, it’s called the passeggiata.  I’ve been in other Mediterranean locations where entire families, including toddlers and aged grandmothers are out strolling together at midnight, along with everyone else in the town.  No one is sitting home, glued to the TV screen.

The research continues to mount up about the bad effects of sitting on weight and health.  And unfortunately, our evening tradition is more likely to involve even more sitting: in front of the TV, in front of a computer, or stuck in a car on a long commute.  Combine this habit with too much food and you’ve got a recipe for an obesity epidemic.  No surprise, that’s what we have.

“Exercise” doesn’t have to be some sweaty, strenuous activity done at an expensive gym, wearing expensive work-out clothes, under the watchful eye of an expensive trainer.  None of that is at all necessary for you to burn off a few extra calories.  If your neighborhood or town has a nice place for an evening walk or bike ride, take advantage of it.

But who wants to take an evening stroll on a narrow sidewalk right next to a 6 lane road of noisy speeding cars?  No one.  Unfortunately that’s the more typical American street scape, completely hostile to pedestrians.  Are we doomed to traveling to Europe in order to take a pleasant evening stroll?  I’m inclined to think the evening stroll tradition can be encouraged by a “If We Build It They Will Come” philosophy of city planning.   Most towns or cities can find ways to make neighborhoods and streets more attractive for strollers, even if only periodically.  Closing off streets for walking, or enhancing pedestrian corridors for views, safety and enjoyment are all options.  Whenever these types of changes are made, people show up in droves to take advantage of the new, more welcoming environment.  And when they do, they burn off a few extra calories.

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