Father Bill speaks

Bill Packard: Studying

Thu, 06/06/2013 - 10:15pm

I'm thinking that studying is my future. Not going for a Ph.D. or local adult education, although you won't get a better value than the local school or vocational center's adult ed. courses. These are opportunities to learn things that will benefit you every day of your life and the cost is almost nothing. OK. Yes, taxpayers are subsidizing it, but we're doing that anyway so why not get a benefit from that and take a course. Back to my studying. I don't know what it's going to be, but I'm going to try to get some funding to study something.

I just read an article about a couple of studies about living in sprawl and the effects that it has on obesity and how dangerous it is to ride your bicycle or walk in rural areas. Now, if you're like me, and you probably aren't, you're wondering what the connection here is. It seems that Reid Ewing, of Rutgers University, rated sprawl in 448 counties around metropolitan areas. His findings were published a while ago in the American Journal of Public Health and the American Journal of Health Promotion. Publications that my subscriptions to, had, unfortunately just run out.

He connected his data with data from the Centers for Disease Control and determined that the further you live from the city, the fatter you're likely to be. Also, you're blood pressure is going to be higher, too. Probably because you're overweight. If you live in Geauga County, outside Cleveland, Ohio, you would weigh 6.3 pounds more than if you lived in Manhattan. He says that Manhattan is the place to live. Seems pretty crowded to me now, so I don't know where everybody would stay but I guess that's material for another study. I wear the same pant size that I did when Lyndon (dogs like this) Johnson was president, so I have been feeling that I'm in pretty good shape for the shape I'm in, but after reading this disturbing study, I suddenly felt a little bloated. After all, Union, Me., is a lot more rural than Geauga County, Ohio, so I'm a victim of my environment.

I'm going to start bulking up and there's nothing I can do about it. Not one to give in easily, I decided exercise was the way to fight this awful plague and I was ready to start walking and maybe even riding a bike on the side road by my house when I read further into the article and found out about John Pucher's study that the Center for Disease Control called "shocking!"

His study found that Americans walking were three times more likely to be killed by a passing car than pedestrians in Germany, and, hold on to your hat, six times more likely to be killed than Dutch pedestrians. Bicycling is not much better. Americans on bicycles are twice as likely to be killed by cars as Germans and over three times as likely to be killed as Dutch cyclists. What could be behind this carnage? I am so upset and discouraged at this point, I can hardly go on, but I feel it is my duty. The reason for the larger number of deaths is that Americans are walking and biking in the road. How they made that connection was just baffling to me. I guess that's why they are both working at Rutgers and I'm not.

We probably should have more opportunities for people to walk and bike safely in America, but if people keep protesting paved shoulders on highways it will probably be awhile before that happens. The first thing that came to me about the weight study was to write a weight loss book, "How to lose 6.3 lbs. and lower your blood pressure overnight." The copy in the book would just say move to Manhattan, and reference the study. It sounded like a good idea, but I thought it needed further study. I really think I should start out local and study something important to Maine. Moose, maybe? Send the grant money to BPackardME@gmail.com.


Bill Packard lives in Union and is the founder of BPackard.com.  He is a speaker, author, small business coach and consultant. 


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