Monday, January 5, 2009

Stairways to Healthy Lifestyles


A couple of days ago, I was nearly mowed down by a disheveled middle-age woman as we exited the train at Southern Avenue Metro. In less than 10 seconds, she managed to push through the slowly moving crowd of passengers and sprint across the platform towards the escalators. After all the haste, she abruptly paused like a deer in headlights. As I approached her, the problem became apparent: the escalators were out of order! This was the moment of truth. The lady had a choice between walking up the stairs or riding the elevator. Given her hurriedness to reach her destination, I assumed she would climb the stairs as quickly as she bulldozed through the masses. I was wrong. She expressed to a nearby commuter that there was no way she would “walk up all them stairs”, and proceeded to the elevator. Now, I am not passing judgment, because there could be medical reasons to bypass the stairs. BUT I do believe that many of us like the disheveled metro lady, make incremental decisions (like whether to take the elevator) each day without considering the collective effect they will have on our lives – in this case, our health.

In River East, we face extraordinary challenges such as high crime rates, underdeveloped infrastructure, economic stagnation, and struggling schools. These are all external problems that we do not directly control. But there is another priority issue deserving immediate attention that we can control, and that is our own physical health. According to a city-wide health study, Ward 8 and 4 residents have the highest obesity rates in DC. And unfortunately, there is a troubling correlation between obesity and other conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

I admit that River East is probably not the most ideal location to live a healthy life. For example, there are few bike paths, no gyms, liquor stores are plentiful, and fried chicken from Yum’s is just a call away. However, where there’s a will, there’s a way. I have witnessed transformational changes in the health of my colleagues who also live in communities like ours. And they didn’t achieve it by hiring a personal trainer or shopping exclusively at Whole Foods. They did it by making smart daily decisions – like taking the stairs. Did you know that if taking the stairs one a minute a day was the only lifestyle change you made, you could lose ½ pound a year? I know, it’s amazing.

So, while many of us pour everything we have into developing our families, our churches, and community, it’s important that we also develop healthy lifestyles. This way, we’ll be around to enjoy River East when it becomes the community we want it to be! And it can all start with taking the stairs!

6 comments:

The Advocate said...

That is so true! If I didnt walk my dog I dont know what type of regular exercise I would get.

Braveheart said...

LOL! Me too! Well, I walk my cat. But I'm going to make a good faith effort to take the stairs from now on! It's convenient and free!

nemo said...

i know you're not publicly admitting to walking your cat on the internet. lord take me now!

Braveheart said...

Oops, that was between me and my neighbors, and now everyone knows!

Dave Murphy said...

It would be nice if you could do some walking around Southern Avenue station. Only place I've ever walked around there is to or from my car.

Braveheart said...

Same here. But actually, if there's any place in that area that I would walk/jog, Southern Avenue would be it. It kinda has the suburban look to it. But I wouldn't venture too far from it!