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Natural Excercise

flying friend
My friend Angela, getting some natural exercise.

Most people are shocked to learn that I don’t have a TV but they soon learn to accept it. The one thing most people [in the U.S.] can’t seem to accept is that I also don’t have a car.

For the most part, being carless has not been an issue – it’s only been an issue when I lived in two U.S. cities: Nashville TN and Austin TX. The lack of public transportation, sidewalks, local shops and extreme humidity made life without a car impossible. But from London to Paris to New Zealand to Canada and yes, Santa Monica California – home of the car-loving people, I’ve been able to not have a car and am actually quite happy for it (my city has a walkable score of 98/100 – I actually think it has 100).

One of the reasons I love being carless is the fact that I hate to exercise. Hate. It. I can’t do gyms, do not ask me to go a yoga class, and please put away that Carmen Electra Shake Your Ass DVD. But the flip side to that is that I really do love being active; I’ll surf any day, I’ll hike a mountain, I’ll lift more heavy boxes than the mover and I’ll jump up and down in excitement over your promotion for 20 minutes. And I’ll especially walk. I’m a walker – I walk everywhere.

I’ve talked about this before in my Walkable Cities post but still the concept of walking, of natural exercise, seems to be lost. I can’t tell you how many people I know go to the gym, pay all those fees and then say to me, “Oh my god, you walk to get groceries?”

Let me just say that walking to the grocery store (Whole Foods) is a beautiful 30 min walk up tree lined streets in which I’m seeing people I know, inhaling flowers like nobodies businesses, laughing at little dogs and just enjoying the sunshine. When I get my groceries I load them up in my pack and repeat on the way home – this time with15lbs added and the view of the ocean to keep me going. Much nicer than feeling like a hamster in a wheel.

I do miss having a car and have signed up for Flexcar for those times I really need one (I do tend to go to a lot of events in LA and it just wouldn’t be right to show up in a fancy dress just off the bus!) and I’ve often toyed with the idea of buying a Prius (it’s what I rent when I need a car in L.A. and went 460 miles of commuting hell on one tank of gas!). But the value of not just saving money (car, insurance, gas, gym fees) but also of just having a healthy natural lifestyle means more to me than sometimes the convenience of having to get somewhere quick.

What are the ways you could be active without even knowing it?



  1. June 14, 2007 / 1:33 PM

    Oh how I wish I could live in a place where I didn’t need a car – maybe the next move…

  2. JillNo Gravatar
    June 14, 2007 / 3:50 PM

    I’m glad I read your post this morning…I too am a walker & get grief from my friends, who seem to think I’m crazy. But, also like you, I hate the gym, but I love to explore while I walk. 🙂 This morning I was feeling a bit lazy & thinking of using my car for the 4-minute drive to work (that I usually walk)…But now I’m grabbing my walking shoes. 🙂

  3. June 14, 2007 / 5:08 PM

    I also love walking and hate the gym. I’ve been walking to work for three years now and love it! I also recently bought an Electra Amsterdam and plan on biking more and driving less. I live in a city of about 25,000, so we don’t have mass transit and the city isn’t really pedestrian oriented. I would love to live in a walkable city!

  4. June 16, 2007 / 12:57 AM

    Count me in the big walkin’ crowd as well. And biking. My favorite part of walking is taking different routes. As spring arrives I find myself walking in alleys so I can peer into people’s backyard gardens for inspiration.

    Our latest version of incidental exercise is badminton. We’ve set up a net on our front lawn and have been playing in the evening. It’s silly, fun and when we’re feeling feisty, pretty hard work. Of course other nights we work harder to keep from spilling a glass of wine while we play and those nights may not count as accidental exercise 😉

  5. June 18, 2007 / 5:48 PM

    It is a pleasure to live in a city like Paris and not need a car. The metro and bus lines are fabulous and walking is such a pleasure. I lived in Austin and tried to take the bus but couldn’t take the wait in the heat and I could walk to work in the morning but the heat in the afternoon defeated me. Your car rental thing sounds perfect.

  6. <>< aNo Gravatar
    June 19, 2007 / 7:51 PM

    you’ve inspired me. i’m in the midst of transitioning between life in texas and life in indiana, and, as i drove a moving truck up to indiana,i am carless for a couple of weeks. my little brother’s ball game is tonight, and i’m dying to sit in the bleachers and cheer him on. so…off i go across the river on my lovely red bicycle…we’ll see how well i handle the hills! =0) they’re a touch daunting on the way up. thanks for the nudge! happy day!

  7. LakshmiNo Gravatar
    July 18, 2007 / 5:44 PM

    In India, women sweep and mop the floor daily and that’s great exercise! My Mom does it regularly and she is fit in her mid-50s… alas, my cleaning involves dancing with the vacuum and running a duster on the blinds… 🙁