Health Promotion Program, Tompkins County Health Department
If you were to pick two things you could do to improve
your personal health, the best two would be (1) avoid
exposure to all tobacco products, and (2) engage in moderate
levels of physical activity on a regular and ongoing basis.
Personal health is not limited to the individual; it’s
a community responsibility, too. About a quarter of Tompkins
County residents smoke, but as many as three-quarters
lead a sedentary lifestyle, making physical activity a
worthy challenge for a healthier community.
As anyone who’s been there knows, adding regular
physical activity to busy lives centered on cars, computers
and cold, cloudy weather is not easy. The good news is,
there are opportunities at every turn. As individuals
we may not see them, but as a community they can become
part of our everyday lives; simply “the way we do
things around here.”
As part of the Curb Your Car Coalition’s month-long
community conversations on transportation, here are some
ideas of what you can count as physical activity:
- Take the first parking spot you find instead of driving
around trying to get a few steps closer to your destination.
The walk counts as physical activity (and driving less
counts as curbing your car.)
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- At the office, walk to a coworker’s desk instead
of calling or emailing.
- You and a buddy go for a ten minute walk during your
regular work break.
- If you’re waiting for a table at restaurant,
get on the list then take a ten minute walk around the
block, or even around the parking lot. Do the same if
you find yourself waiting for a take-out order.
- Time a few walking routes around your neighborhood.
Make a list with a 10, a 20, and a 30 minute route and
post the list on your ’fridge. You’ll find
it easier to fit more quick walks into your day.
- When carrying items from your car to inside, carry
fewer items per trip and make more trips.
The most important part of this community effort is to
watch for opportunities and support each other’s
efforts! Making an extra trip or taking the time to walk
is counter-intuitive in our time-saving culture of ultra-efficiency
and mobile economy. Yet the economies of “save your
steps” belie the health benefits of regular activity.
Personal health relies on a healthy community, and a
healthy community supports your personal health. Let’s
work together to make regular physical activity count
for all of us. Here are some ways to show your support
right away: respect pedestrian right-of-ways, slow down
for walkers on suburban streets and country roads, and
don’t feel rejected when, “can I give you
a lift?” is answered by, “no thanks, I’ll