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Can sidewalks prevent diabetes?

A new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine says sidewalks could be a part of preventing diabetes. That and closer sources of fruits and veggies.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

One thing I wanted when I moved to my present house, in 1983, was a sidewalk.

The house I grew up in had no sidewalk, although you could play in the street. The sidewalks in Houston, where I went to college, were all cracked by the roots of great oak trees.

So why was I so hot for a sidewalk? Maybe to prevent diabetes? (Photo by the author.)

A new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine says sidewalks could be a part of preventing diabetes. That and closer sources of fruits and veggies.

A site called Walkscore can help you calculate how your own neighborhood fits this ideal. It does this by showing where all the parks, restaurants and shops are within a mile of your home. (My score is 57. What's yours?)

The same site lists the most and least-walkable cities. Not LA, honey. Jacksonville. In fact downtown LA makes the list of the 140 most-walkable neighborhoods around.  It calls San Francisco eminently walkable, but given the steepness of the climbs I'd call it more hikeable.

Obviously walkability means more than proximity. As Walkscore notes, cul de sacs can make any city unwalkable. But improvement is possible. My mom lives in Huntington Beach, an area of half-mile blocks filled with cul de sacs, but thanks to sidewalks, many hidden from the main roads by walls, she can actually get around. At 86.

This is a subject dear to my heart right now, as a close friend-and-neighbor passed away over the weekend of diabetes. My best friend is diabetic, and so is the preacher across the street.

They have taught me that walkability is only one factor in fighting diabetes.

How you choose to spend your time, and how well you're loved in the kitchen, are also big factors. Gardening is exercise. Pasta sauce is good for you. Hugs help, too, and attitude is just about everything.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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