Why New Yorkers Last Longer

According to New York Magazine, A New Yorker born in 2004 can now expect to live 78.6 years, nine months longer than the average American will. The traditional ways of dying young in New York (homicide, AIDS, and drugs) continue to decline, but so does cancer and heart disease. One reason: people not only walk, they walk fast, faster than anywhere else in the country. "Walking speed absolutely reflects health status," [epedemiologist Eleanor] Simonsick says. So when you irritatedly blow past a trio of ambling visitors from Ohio or Iowa on the subway platform, you're not just being an obnoxious New Yorker. You're demonstrating that you're going to outlive them—and enjoy better health while they slowly degrade.

NYM continues:

The thing is, as Simonsick points out, New York is literally designed to force people to walk, to climb stairs—and to do it quickly. Driving in the city is maddening, pushing us onto the sidewalks and up and down the stairs to the subways. What's more, our social contract dictates that you should move your ass when you're on the sidewalk, so as not to annoy your fellow walkers....Every city block doubles as a racewalking track, every subway station, a StairMaster. Seen this way, the whole city looks like a massive exercise machine dedicated to improving our health while we run errands.

New Yorkers are an average of ten pound lighter than their suburban neighbours, according to Professor of Urban Planning Lawrence Frank.

"The more you drive, the more you weigh," Frank tells me after I call him to talk about it. He was unsurprised when I described New York's increases in life expectancy. "You put people in an environment where public transportation is rational and driving is almost impossible, and it would be shocking not to see this outcome," he says. Other scientists suggest that New York's benefits do not occur merely because the city is walkable. It's also because New York is old and filled with attractive architecture and interesting street scenes—since, as it turns out, aesthetically pretty places lure people out of their homes and cars. A 2002 study by the National Institutes of Health found that people living in buildings built before 1973 were significantly more likely to walk one-mile distances than those living in areas with newer architecture—because their environments were less architecturally ugly.

Read the entire article at ::New York Magazine

Tags: Walking

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