Yesterday I was driving across the parking lot at our gym and I had to slam on the breaks to avoid an overweight man on a mobility scooter zipping across the parking lot. This was in an area that homeless guys tend to hang out, like the guy who uses a knee brace and crutches as props for his begging corner – but that guy can’t seem to remember which leg he keeps the brace on. Anywho! Back to the scooter guy. How many people do we see on scooters who can actually walk?
While I whole-heartedly believe there are people who need a mobility scooter, I can’t remember the last time I actually saw a handicapped person using one who actually was not able to walk. I know they exist, but I believe these aids are hurting people more than helping them.
Maybe they start off using them because of an injury, or to help them be a little more mobile. But, it encourages more laziness and dependance – which can lead to even more weight gain. I believe that’s why we end up seeing so many heavy young people on scooters. It just becomes easier to use the scooter – and the more they use it, the more muscle strength and stamina they lose.
Scooters are an electric crutch that someone can get stuck with if they aren’t purposefully working hard to get away from using them. Of course I’m not suggesting that it’s going to be easy for these people – it will take work, but in most cases it’s totally doable. Unfortunately, we live in a world full of conveniences that have taken away one of the best exercises known to man – walking.
It used to be, that if you had to go to your neighbors, you’d walk – not drive your golf cart 5 houses down. Our neighborhood is relatively small. Houses are built along a 1.4 mile road that circles a lake. It literally could take me 5-8 minutes to get to the opposite side of the neighborhood on foot. Yet, jumping in the car is the knee jerk response when I’m going to the tennis courts just a half a mile away.
We realized just how spoiled we are when Steve did Fat March, a walking show for weight loss reality TV on ABC. Even when they were off camera, we walked pretty much everywhere if we wanted to go out to eat or hit the mall. I remember looking for a gym while visiting and calling around to see what was close by. When I found a gym about 2 miles away, the reality that I had to walk there sunk in. Of course it’s not like I can’t walk 2 miles, but I already missed being able to jump in the car and get there quickly. Steve laughed because, by that time, he’d already walked several hundred miles – what was 2 more!?
Although increasing your activity shouldn’t replace a purposeful exercise routine, it sure as heck is an important part of maintaining a good quality of life. If you don’t want to be stuck in a scooter when you are 70, you need to stay on your feet as much as possible when you are 40.
Impatience Makes Us Fat
I think the major problem with Americans today is we are always in a hurry. We don’t want to spend 10 minutes walking somewhere when we can get their in 2 minutes if we drive. Our impatience makes us lazy and it reducing activity. If cars weren’t so darn easy to jump in and out of, it would be much different. Even in the horse and buggy days, it might have been just as much work, and take as much time, to saddle a horse than it was to walk. So even then, walking was probably a smart option. Now we’ve gotten so smart we are acting dumb. We aren’t as aware of how our convenient and fast lifestyle is affecting our health and activity.
This blog is NOT to dump on people who use scooters. It’s not to judge anyone for where they are in their life. It is to ENCOURAGE people to NEVER give up on doing everything you can to have the BEST quality of life possible. Whether you can walk, but can’t run – or you can only walk with a cane. I just never want anyone to give up on their dreams of staying mobile and healthy. Even if you are completely healthy, it’s my hope that I can make you more aware of ways to protect your health and mobility. Here are some tips. Pass it along if you think they may help others. 🙂
A Dozen Ways to Increase Activity Throughout the Day
2. If you are going out to a nearby place to eat – walk, don’t drive.
3. Walk to neighbors and save the golf cart for golf.
4. Take walking tours while traveling.
5. Avoid taking a cab when downtown in big cities.
6. Skip the elevator and take the stairs as often as you can.
7. Don’t take a grocery cart, just out of convenience. Use your muscles and carry a basket when you can.
8. Walk your dog instead of just letting out in the back yard.
9. Trade sitting and drinking coffee with a neighbor or friend for a nice walk. Walking is one of the best ways to get exercise and catch up with a friend.
10. Choose restaurants that are near fun places to walk, like the beach, parks, downtown shops and the mall, so you can take a walk after dinner with your date.
11. Don’t enable loved ones. Dealing with someone who is handicapped is touchy. Although you want to be sensitive, you also need to hold them accountable and encourage them to stay active.
12. Stay active when you get injured. One of the worst things you can do is allow an injury to get you down. A few months ago Steve tore his MCL, medial meniscus and IT band. Although he can’t walk without a limp, and he can’t run, do kickboxing or BCx Boot Camp, he can do the bike and elliptical. He even does legs – carefully. It’s scary, but you have to stay active to rehabilitate injuries.
ENCOURAGEMENT: A Man Who Didn’t Give Up
WALKING WORKS: Steve’s Memory Reel from ABC’s Fat March:
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
What’s your take on obesity and scooters? Do you know someone who beat the odds and lost the cane, chair or scooter wheels?