General Question

mattbrowne's avatar

Taking a car to the gymnasium to use a treadmill exercise machine - When will people rediscover the value of walking for daily errands?

Asked by mattbrowne (31458 points ) April 13th, 2009

In the US most new residential areas built in the 70ies and 80ies are without sidewalks which is a curious thing to many Europeans. The explanation goes like this: “Why would we need sidewalks? We got cars.” Aha. Ignorant question of a backward European. Visiting your neighbor 200 yards down the road, why waste time walking? Going to another shop 300 yards down the street, no problem, they got a parking lot too. All newer areas in towns and cities seem to have been optimized for motor vehicle usage. It’s called progress. Wait, are you really sure? Recently I found an intriguing document on the web. From Sioux City. It looks like a bylaw. Here it is:

*** Section 20.04.180 Public sidewalks required for new residential or commercial structure or complexes ***

“No person, firm, or corporation shall complete construction of a new residential or commercial structure, and no new residential or commercial structure shall be occupied, until new public sidewalks have been constructed abutting the premises, or until necessary repairs are made to existing public sidewalks, all according to city specifications. If more than one new residential or commercial structure is intended to be placed or constructed in a new residential or commercial complex in which the street or streets are on private property, then no person, firm or corporation shall complete construction of the first of such new residential or commercial structures, nor shall the first of such new residential or commercial structures be occupied, until new public sidewalks have been constructed abutting those portions of the premises which are adjacent to public streets; or until necessary repairs are made to existing public sidewalks abutting the premises, all according to city specifications. (Ord. 90/T-9317)”

http://www.sioux-city.org/codemaster/Title_20/04/180.html

Is this an exception? Or a new trend? If yes, this might hurt the treadmill industry. What’s your opinion?

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27 Answers

cwilbur's avatar

I think it’s far from a new trend, and I don’t think it will have any effect on the treadmill industry.

Facade's avatar

Walking everywhere might ruin my shoes.

Mr_M's avatar

It won’t hurt the treadmill industry. In a gym, you don’t need to worry about who’s behind you, you can use it day or night, you can change the terrain from level to inclined, but, most importantly, on the gym treadmill you can push yourself (too much), yet still be able to get back in the car and go home. If you walked 5 miles in the streets, then realized you didn’t have the energy to get back, then what? Or it rains. Then what?

Personally, I like high school tracks.

Likeradar's avatar

Benefits of treadmills v. outside- Weather. Terrain control. Can be safer than being outside during some times of the day/in some areas. Can watch TV and exercise. Can read a magazine/book and exercise. Weights and other equipment are right there.

Walking or running outside can be great, but it’s not for everyone. Sidewalks are awesome, but the treadmill industry is here to stay, imho.

bananafish's avatar

1. This is not an exercise trend, sidewalk laws are compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, ensuring that places of business are accessible to all people.

2. I don’t need a sidewalk to walk. Do you? Nope look at that, my feet still function on grass and blacktop. Huh.

3. “We got cars.”....Really? So we’re now not only lazy, but also ignorant? Did we say this after falling off a turnip truck?

eponymoushipster's avatar

sometimes it’s not that we wouldn’t, it’s that the errands are too far away. it happens when your country is bigger than france.

when i lived in chicago, a great walking city, i used to walk to do a lot of chores. but i live in the suburbs now, and everything is a 20min walk – and then i’d have to carry it home.

oratio's avatar

Car traffic is prioritized all over the western world I think. More in some places, less in some. I don’t know, but I think that in many parts of the US really need to have a car to get around. If it’s so maybe it’s a part of the american culture, an urban phenomena.

There are future projects in some cities in the Union (EU), where the plan to close the inner city from car traffic. I am all for that. That is really reclaiming the streets.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

Treadmills suck. One of the worst inventions ever.

Frank: ding I’ve got it Clarence.. we’ll make a machine where you can walk but never get anywhere. It’s brilliant I tell you.. It’s brilliant!

Clarence: Let’s go for a walk and talk about it.

cwilbur's avatar

I walk and take public transit just about everywhere. I moved from the suburbs, so I have a car that’s completely paid off.

And you know what? I walk to the gym to use the treadmill. Because the treadmill has this nifty feature where it adjusts the incline and speed to maintain my heart rate, which means I can just set the time I want to spend exercising and the heart rate I want to sustain, and the treadmill worries about warmup, cooldown, etc., and all I have to do is zone out to my iPod.

mattbrowne's avatar

Here’s an interesting article:

In the U.S., physical inactivity is a major cause of the increase in obesity. Considerable research has been produced in the last 10 years – most of it funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – that shows the way streets and neighborhoods have been built and maintained can greatly influence the physical activity and obesity levels of its residents.

A large number of studies link community design and transportation planning to activity levels of adults. For example, the presence of sidewalks and other measures of walkability are associated with significantly higher rates of walking.

A 2004 study in Atlanta found that residents of more walkable neighborhoods were 35% less likely to be obese than residents of the least walkable neighborhoods.

http://www.livablestreets.com/streetswiki/active-community-environments

jca's avatar

i think weather and privacy are two reasons why people like treadmills as opposed to walking. treadmills can be 24/7, bad neighborhoods, good neighborhoods, rain, snow, ice, dark, etc. ever walk on a sidewalk? some of them have holes, high spots, great places to twist an ankle. i had been walking on my highschool track, and when the weather got cold, and i had no treadmille, the track walking ended. also, on a treadmill, you don’t have to worry about how you look, what you’re wearing, etc. (if you’re at home).

gailcalled's avatar

I have a 6-year old treadmill in my family room. I use it every other day (treadmill and not family room) during the 11 months of winter. When the weather is finally bearable, I walk outside.

When I go our little town, I always park a distance away and walk everywhere. I don’t worry about how I look there either, because everyone else looks the same.

I love the treadmill. I watch Jeopardy! and see what I know and don’t know. The machine has paid for itself over over the six years.

casheroo's avatar

I hate neighborhoods without sidewalks, it’s so weird.

I go for a walk pretty much every day with my son, and we live pretty close to a shopping center, so I walk there to the post office, dollar store, or the nail salon that I get my eyebrows waxed at lol. I also live pretty close to my parents. They think it’s crazy when I walk over, there are a ton of hills, but it’s just refreshing to go for walks. I’m not a big runner though. I think treadmills are best for running.

tinyfaery's avatar

I cannot run errands by walking. I have to drive to get every where I need to go. Plus, if I wlaked, my lungs would take a serious beating. I live in the car capital of the country. Just walking a few blocks down the street makes my asthma act-up.

Benny's avatar

It’s better than not exercising at all.

eponymoushipster's avatar

What I don’t get is the ppl who try to park as close as possible at the gym. Wtf?

Mr_M's avatar

I DO get it. They figure they’ll work out until they’re exhausted, so the less walking afterwards, the better.

mattbrowne's avatar

Don’t get me wrong, I got a exercise machine at my home as well. But I actually enjoy walking whenever possible.

Zen's avatar

I love walking, and do not like gyms. I especially do not like treadmills, and sorry, but it reminds me of hamsters and gerbils and the like. See here

In any case, I love walking long distances, and live in a warm climate, so it’s easier for me. It’s also an excellent, healthful way of phys. fitness, eh?!

bananafish's avatar

Again, I don’t see at all how neighborhoods without sidewalks = no walking or exercise.

I live in a neighborhood without sidewalks (sorry casheroo, guess I won’t be inviting you over any time soon) and it’s like an Olympic stadium outside every nice day: Joggers, and stroller moms (myself included), and kids with bikes and wagons, and speed walkers, and bicyclists, and teens with IPods walking all over the place, etc.

And now that I think of it, I don’t recall ever seeing one obese person in our relatively large subdivision. I mean, there could always be a Mrs. Grape hidden in a house somewhere, you never know…

So I think unpaved neighborhoods are just a big scapegoat for other issues.

YARNLADY's avatar

I don’t like walking outside because I have to put on nasty sunscreen and wear a hat. Also the smell of auto fumes is much stronger outside. I prefer to use my treadmill in my family room because I can watch TV, or do many household chores in between walking for five minutes or so. I can use it when I am babysitting and he is sleeping.

We used to have a health club membership, but the nearest one is 5 miles away. I used it when Sonny was a teenager, to take him swimming with his friends, and tennis lessons, while I spent the afternoon sitting in the shade with my needlepoint. It got too expensive to run our pool heater.

gailcalled's avatar

No sidewalks here and very few paved roads. Walking on a dirt road, with few to no cars, allows me to hear the birds, see the flowers emerge and watch the brook purling over the large slabs of bluestone.

Zen's avatar

@gailcalledYou and I must make a pact, we must bring salvation back…” and go for a walk together someday, eh?

Amoebic's avatar

If I walked to work, it would take me several hours, round trip. I don’t have that kind of time. I would love to work somewhere within walking distance (it would certainly lessen the financial burdens somewhat). It goes the same for most daily errands.

When I do exercise, it’s usually at night. Being a small, young female, I consider it a safety hazard to go running outdoors alone at night. Enter treadmill.

mattbrowne's avatar

@bananafish – In my opinion building sidewalks is very beneficial. It’s not only about residential areas. It’s about all areas where people should have an alternative to using cars for short distances. And yes, there are many other factors as well, above all education and wealth, when searching for the root causes of obesity. I just think when trying to do something against it sidewalks are a good start.

@gailcalled – This sounds like a wonderful natural environment. No need for sidewalks there for sure!

cwilbur's avatar

@bananafish: It depends on the traffic patterns. If you’re in a suburban residental subdivision, where cars never go faster than 15 miles per hour and are relatively rare, sidewalks aren’t that necessary. If you live near a street where people routinely drive 40 miles per hour, the presence of a sidewalk means the difference between walking safely and taking your life in your hands.

jca's avatar

i live on a rural route where the roads are two lanes (one lane each way), narrow, curvy, hilly and people come through during rush hour. i couldn’t walk the road without coming near death. if the town planners (it’s actually a state road so i guess the state, then) would have planned it, they could have put sidewalks in, but it’s not the kind of road that would have sidewalks. in the complex i live in, it’s walkable, but then again, it’s the weather factor (four months out of the year at least are frigid).

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