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'Carmageddon' can be motivation to get out and move

July 13, 2011|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Just because you can't leave your neighborhood doesn't mean you can't exercise--dealing with Carmageddon can be a good reason to move
Just because you can't leave your neighborhood doesn't mean… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

Trapped in your neighborhood this weekend due to "Carmegeddon," or just afraid to venture out in an automobile? No worries -- consider using this weekend as an excuse to burn calories doing mind-numbing errands.

That's right, you can actually get some exercise by walking or biking to the grocery store, the dry cleaners, the library and the barber.

Just think of the activity you could get: A 30-minute brisk walk for a 150-pound person burns about 175 calories -- that's about a 1-ounce bag of regular potato chips. Cycling for half an hour for a 150-pound person burns about 300 calories. Just staying around the house doing some gardening? That could burn about 300 calories as well. These activities won't just burn off the food you ate, they'll also raise your heart rate, providing cardiovascular benefits.

We realize that not every Los Angeles-area neighborhood is safe and walkable, but there are health advantages to living in areas where it's easy and safe to walk and bike places. A 2007 study in the American Journal of Public Health found areas with higher walkability scores were linked with older residents doing more walking for exercise.

Living in walkable neighborhoods may cause people to weigh less. A 2008 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine examined about 450,000 drivers' licenses for Salt Lake County and linked them to U.S. Census information and Geographic Information System street data. Researchers discovered that if the amount of neighborhood residents walking to work doubled that could decrease a person's obesity risk by 10%.

If Carmageddon is crimping your plans to go to the gym, there are plenty of exercises you can do at home without any equipment, such as push-ups, ab crunches, lunges and squats. Or, pop in a favorite fitness DVD or stream something on your computer. Basically, if you're healthy you have no excuse not to move this weekend. So get moving, even if your car isn't.

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