It wasn't long ago that the environment was at the bottom of everyone's priority list. With gas looking as if it won't go on sale anytime soon, and obesity rates heading in the same direction, people are starting to be mindful about what they put into the air as well as their own bodies. While these two issues seem very far apart, our own well being is directly associated to that of our planet.
Calories Instead of Gas
Back before everything was so easy, we had to power our own way around town. That meant burning calories instead of gas. We had to do a lot of manual labor and as a result, there were few environmental and health problems. Granted in those days, modern medicine and technology couldn't help extend our lives like they do today.
After the industrial revolution, we began to invent machines for every difficult situation we faced. Cars took us where we needed to go, combines harvested our crops and food processors grated our cheese. These advances have definitely helped us over the years but they've also lead to an increased dependence on fossil fuels and a decreased need to do any hard physical activity.
Anytime you use a machine to do work that you would normally have to do yourself, (regular vs. sit-lawn mower, bike vs. car) you're creating two big problems. First, you're burning some kind of fuel which pollutes the environment and second, you're not engaging in any form of physically demanding work.
Too Many Calories
On average, Americans eat over 3,500 calories per day. For most people who have an office job, a calorie intake over 3,000 isn't needed. When you eat that many calories, you're increasing your own risk of becoming overweight and obese while at the same time harming the environment. How does eating too much negatively impact our surroundings?
All the food we eat needs to be grown somewhere. That somewhere is usually nowhere near your home and takes a lot of energy in the form of gasoline to transport. In addition to energy, food requires pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals that drain off into nearby rivers and lakes which can eventually infiltrate the fresh water supply. If you're big into meat, hormones are used to quicken the growth of livestock and the long term health effects on humans aren't fully understood.
While eating too much puts a strain on our planet, exercising too little can make us sick. Study after study has shown that exercise has the same effects as some of the most expensive medicines we pay for. It can lower blood pressure, increase insulin sensitivity (good for those with diabetes), lower cholesterol, decrease the risk for cardiovascular disease, decrease the effects of depression and help us lose weight.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that we're burning more fuel (bad for the environment) so we can conserve more calories (bad for our health). This is the exact opposite of what we need to do in order to solve some of our own health problems as well as clean up the planet. Burning calories to do tasks such as mowing your lawn, biking to the grocery store or grating your own cheese will either save you energy or cause a machine in a factory to do less work. Either way, you're helping yourself and working to give your kids a cleaner future.