City slickers in better shape than country folk

City slickers get their exercise in a civilized and a more voluntary way

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TORONTO, ON, Mar 17, 2015/ Troy Media/ – Urbanites are fitter than rural people, as you may know. There are a lot of variables, including less smoking, better diet, more discretionary fitness and more walking to get around.

There’s walking on a farm, of course. I’ve done it. But it’s not pleasant walking. You start the day looking for tools in the basement and taking them to the broken piece of machinery in the field. Then you stagger to where the tractor is parked, drive it over to the machinery, hook on and use the machine. The rest of the day is up and down, off and on the tractor, hooking up new things to tow, piling wood or hay on the wagon, unloading same and going back for more.

For country folk it’s all about work

If it rains there’s a panic to get something in. If it’s too dry, there’s a panic to get hay, water and grain to the fields for the animals.

This staggering and panic goes on until it’s too dark for either. It begins again the next morning.

Country folk are too busy to just stroll around like city slickers

For city slickers of the developing world, there’s lots of this staggering, but little panic like with country folk. Getting an old truck tire across town seems to be a worthy day of work in lots of the world. I once saw half a satellite dish on the back of a bicycle in Beijing and thought that symbolized a lot – ingenuity, emerging prosperity, gradual openness, and much more I suppose.

In the prosperous cities, there’s an urgency but no panic. Sure, you’ll see the guy on a delivery bike in New York going the wrong way to get some Chinese food across town. But he’s just determined, not in a panic. Ditto the old garment district types I saw as a kid pushing racks of clothes across the street. The few of these folks remaining are also determined, but not in a panic.

Even financial folks in big developed cities may be self-centred, pushy and determined, but there isn’t the personal threat in the city that there is on a farm.

We get our exercise in a civilized and a more voluntary way in the city. Civilized? Yes, because it’s not imperative that we get that broken piece of machinery fixed, so we can walk to our destination without necessity lapping at our heels. If it starts to rain, we’re not going to lose a crop . . . only get our fine clothing damp, and can usually grab a cab or duck into a building. We have options – walking, buses, subway, streetcars – depending on the city.

For city slickers it’s all about pleasure

Most of the time when we are walking, we’ve left enough time to enjoy the walk. The walking surface is smooth and predictable, so we don’t turn an ankle. We can think and enjoy the view.

Urban walking becomes sustained exercise that also reduces stress. There isn’t even the added stress of competition and body image that there is in fitness clubs. There’s just enjoying the walk. And, unlike on the farm, if we’ve had enough, we sit on a bench, duck into a restaurant or grab some kind of transit.

Dr. Allan Bonner has consulted on some of the major planning and public policy issues of our times on five continents for 25 years. He loves cities and his latest book will be titled Safe Cities.

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