Have you heard of Blue Zones? These rare geographical locations around the world are home to abnormally high numbers of people thriving well into their 100s. How do they do it? A culture of eating healthy whole foods and incorporating movement into every day.
Here in rural Lewis County, many of us rely heavily on our cars to get around. But this dependence on automotive transportation often results in social isolation, expanding waistlines, and poor health. Many of us try to combat this effect with intense exercise routines but end up burning out because … ouch.
Fortunately, there are simple ways to add physical activity into everyday life. Simply trading out time behind the wheel of a car for walking, running, biking or riding public transit creates a healthier lifestyle. “We live in a relatively small area, but most of us drive everywhere – even if it’s less than a mile away,” says Twin Transit Community Relations Director Andrea Culletto. “By walking, running or biking that short distance, we can be healthier overall. And if you’re going somewhere a little farther away, walking, running or biking to the bus stop and taking transit is a really healthy solution that’s also better for the environment, reducing carbon emissions and traffic-related pollution.”
Improve your health by examining daily routines and finding opportunities to walk, run, bike or ride transit instead. Live near your child’s school? Walk the kids there and back instead of dropping them off. Not only is this option healthier for your family and the environment, but it also frees you from other distractions and creates a meaningful pocket of time in which to connect every day.
Walking, running, biking and riding the bus also generate more interactions with others. According to a recent article by Jessie Sun and Simine Vazire in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the number of interactions one has throughout the day directly impact happiness. “People who had more social interactions in the week of the study reported higher levels of well-being, both when they were having those social interactions and generally,” said AllPsych’s Neil Petersen. Walking, running, biking and riding public transit are ideal ways to improve the number of interactions and increase overall happiness.
Incorporating time in green spaces also inspires happiness and wellbeing. Fortunately, Lewis County has an abundance of these areas, connected by lovely community trails. Leave the car at home and walk, run, bike or ride the bus to our local parks, activities and other community amenities.
The more we each walk, run, bike or ride, the healthier we all become. Add in some fresh produce and lots of delicious whole foods and who knows? Maybe Lewis County could become the next Blue Zone.