We moved to New York more than seven years ago. We sold our cars and transitioned to a life of walking, biking and taking public transportation.
It’s not always great — during the recent heat wave, I melted and dripped on the sidewalk instead of rolling along in my air conditioned box — but mostly, I love it. Doing errands on foot makes me really feel a part of our neighborhood.
Turns out being on foot might also make me healthier, happier and sexier, according to GOOD.
An article headlined How Better Urban Design Makes Us Healthier, Happier, and Sexier says in part:
Sprawl … makes us angrier; road rage is now a clinical condition. As social primates, we get an enormous amount of information from body language and eye contact. Walking down a packed sidewalk, pedestrians don’t run into each other even though they’re not signaling turns. We know through the slightest tilt of the shoulder or flick of the eye that someone’s changing direction. If you do accidentally bump someone, a dip of the shoulder is enough of an apology. But all of the complexity of our social world is lost when you’re in a car. There’s no way to know if someone who cut you off is sorry or trying to mess with you.
When you get cut off, the brain releases an array of chemicals that make your muscles tense, make you less likely to think through the consequences of actions, and trigger the release of even more chemicals. It literally drives us crazy. It’s ok if it happens once in a while, but if the amygdala is constantly firing off a toxic soup of chemicals, it creates permanent changes in the brain that make you mistrustful, angry, less able to handle complex reasoning, and more antisocial. If we have any hope of creating a more civil society, a thriving democracy, we can’t have people trapped in their cars every day.
By contrast, what happens when we get out of our cars? It helps bring sexy back.
Walking and biking, on the other hand, not only make us fit, but they also both improve mental health. Oxytocin—the same chemical released during sex and breastfeeding, that reduces stress and increases trust and empathy—is released during outdoor exercise. (Indoor exercise, interestingly, doesn’t have the same effect).
So try parking your car. Maybe talk a walk around your neighborhood? Stroll around a pedestrian-friendly part of town for date night? Or go for a bike ride and give a little wave to anyone you see?
Related blog posts on Newvine Growing:
- What do you want from your hometown?
- Exercise isn’t just good for your body, it’s good for your mind
- Slow down, you move too fast
- 6 Lazy Ways to get Happier, Sexier, Healthier, Richer. (elephantjournal.com)
- Chicago Crosswalks: Planning for Pedestrians in the Windy City (sustainablecitiescollective.com)
- Having a Purpose in Life is Healthier than Happiness (counselheal.com)
- How does it do that?!? (solefulmamas.com)