As I approach the fourth year anniversary of My Car-free Adventure, I'm reflecting on what makes this a satisfying adventure for me, and what challenges I face. I have moved a few times since beginning this adventure, and with each move I discover new challenges and satisfactions in My Car-free Adventure!
In this series I will discuss each item on my list and how these have impacted my life and decision to continue Car-free.
What Makes Car-free Living Enjoyable?
1. Natural exercise -- walking can ease depression and other physical disorders, walking also burns calories and lets me eat foods I enjoy.
2. Living more economically -- no car payment, repair costs, gas prices, insurance, paying for and finding parking.
3. Attention to surroundings -- interaction with people, beautiful scenery, local shops
4. Personal time to think -- our lives are so busy, sometimes we need some downtime.
What Are the Challenges to Car-free Living?
1. Public transportation availability -- wait times, convenience of stops
2. Shopping -- buying large/heavy items can be a challenge
3. Weather -- be prepared, pay attention to forecasting and bring what you may need
4. Stigma -- some people assume you don't have a drivers license, or it was revoked, etc
I often say, "Our bodies are designed for movement." Regardless of individual belief about the beginnings of creation, we can agree with science that our bodies function better when we move...walking, running, swimming, playing sports...all can have a positive effect on a person's physical and mental health.
For example, in 2002 the World Health Organization (WHO) released these recommendations regarding the effects of movement versus a sedentary lifestyle:
Most health professionals are also in agreement that walking 10,000 steps a day (approximately 5 miles) is the ideal goal to set for improving health and reducing the health risks caused by inactivity. According to the WorldHealthOrganization (WHO), 60 to 85% of the population worldwide does not engage in enough activity. Making physical inactivity the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality.¹
Further, as reported in Scientific American, an Australian study found:
One in 10 U.S. adults suffers from depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Women are 70% more likely to be depressed at some point in their lives than men,according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Women who averaged 150 minutes of moderate exercise (golf, tennis, aerobics classes, swimming, or line-dancing) or 200 minutes of walking every week had more energy, socialized more, felt better emotionally, and weren't as limited by their depression when researchers followed up after three years.²
As one of these women who live with Major Depression, I know how inhibiting depression can be on my desire to do things, even beneficial activities. So, what can a person do? According to SriniPillay, MD, and published in Harvard Health Publications on March 26, 2016:
When you are too exhausted to use thought control strategies such as focusing on the positive, or looking at the situation from another angle, movement can come to the rescue. By working out, going on a meditative walk by yourself, or going for a synchronized walk with someone, you may gain access to a “back door” to the mental changes that you desire without having to “psych yourself” into feeling better.³
After a long winter of ice, snow and uncleared sidewalks, I am happily embracing spring.
Now, it’s time to take my dog for a walk!