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  #1  
Old 09 November 2011, 08:52 PM
hstarr hstarr is offline
 
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Default Average American only walks 350 yards a day

I'm not sure where to put this topic. Hopefully here is OK. I did a search and surprisingly didn't come up with any discussion of this so decided to post.

I just saw this "fact" show up on Twitter today:
"The average American walks only 350 yds per day. The rest of the time people are transported by mechanized vehicles."

So I went to research it.

Here is an old discussion on the Straight Dope message board about the source for this statement. It appears the statistic was used in two books by Bill Bryson:

One Notes from a Big Country:

"A researcher at the University of California at Berkeley recently made a study of the nation's walking habits and concluded that 85 per cent of people in the United States are "essentially" sedentary and 35 per cent are "totally" sedentary. The average American walks less than 75 miles a year – about 1,4 miles a week, barely 350 yards a day."

And the other "A Walk in the Woods":

"Every twenty minutes on the Appalachian Trail, Katz and I walked farther than the average American walks in a week. For 93 percent of all trips outside the home, for whatever distance or whatever purpose, Americans now get in a car. On average the total walking of an American these days -- that's walking of all types: from car to office, from office to car, around the supermarket and shopping malls -- adds up to 1.4 miles a week, barely 350 yards a day. "

I can't find the researcher/study to back up this statement. Can any of you?

Here is a more recent study that shows "Americans, on average, took 5,117 steps a day." Or 2.56 miles (2,000 steps=1 mile according to the article) , far more than 350 yards.
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  #2  
Old 09 November 2011, 11:11 PM
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I walk more than that just getting from my car across the SuperEvilStoreMart parking lot and into the store and then back, and that doesn't even include going from one end of the 3 football field sized interior to get q tips and all the way to the opposite end to get bananas. And I probably go at least twice a week, and if I don't go there, I'm going to a combination of 3 other stores to get everything. And that's just grocery shopping. Some days I might not walk at all if it's a stay at home and do laundry day, but when I get out and do stuff I'm walking a lot. I would guess at least a mile, maybe two.
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  #3  
Old 09 November 2011, 11:16 PM
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I wonder if the study meant walking as specifically in going for a walk? Otherwise, it seems way off. You wouldn't get round Wegmans.
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  #4  
Old 09 November 2011, 11:30 PM
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I'm not sure 350 yards a day would cover my trips to the office bathroom.
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  #5  
Old 10 November 2011, 12:11 AM
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I have an extremely short two block commute, and even that adds up to a kilometer (.62 miles) of walking to and from work per day (250m each way, and I go home for lunch). Add in trips around the office, to the store, etc, and I'd doubt that a day goes by where I don't do at least a couple miles of walking. I'd practically have to be housebound to keep it to the 300 yard limit.

I could see that being the average for walking workouts - I wonder what percentage of people actually do a dedicated walk/run for fitness and what that adds up to? Someone who does 15 miles a week is going to offset a lot of people who don't work out at all.
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  #6  
Old 10 November 2011, 12:43 AM
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Keep in mind that even though Bill Bryson was born and raised in the US, he's lived abroad for much of his life and in several of his books (notably The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America) he shows a European cultural superiority complex and frequently criticizes Americans for being fat, lazy, and uncultured. I wouldn't be surprised if he skewed statistics (by including infants and infirm people, for example) or flat-out made them up.
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  #7  
Old 10 November 2011, 04:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hstarr View Post
Here is a more recent study that shows "Americans, on average, took 5,117 steps a day." Or 2.56 miles (2,000 steps=1 mile according to the article) , far more than 350 yards.
My mom wears a step counter every day. When she's at home she regularly takes 10,000 steps a day, or more. She complained about her recent visit to relatives, where she spent most days in the car, Even then she racked up 2,000 steps a day. Definitely far more than 350 yards.
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  #8  
Old 10 November 2011, 08:16 AM
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It's sounds extremely dubious, but it reminds me of a comment I heard recently.

My sister went to the USA a few weeks ago and was amazed at the number of young people riding around in motorized carts. They weren't disabled, as the were able to get out and pick stuff of the shelf.
There were entire car parks full of them outside theme park rides.
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  #9  
Old 10 November 2011, 08:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post
My sister went to the USA a few weeks ago and was amazed at the number of young people riding around in motorized carts. They weren't disabled, as the were able to get out and pick stuff of the shelf.
There were entire car parks full of them outside theme park rides.
This doesn't ring true at all. Anecdotal evidence based on visiting an amusement park seems pretty tenuous.
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  #10  
Old 10 November 2011, 10:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Errata View Post
This doesn't ring true at all. Anecdotal evidence based on visiting an amusement park seems pretty tenuous.
What doesn't ring true. The statement was that she was amazed at the number of them, not that it was meant to prove anything.
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Old 10 November 2011, 12:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post
It's sounds extremely dubious, but it reminds me of a comment I heard recently.

My sister went to the USA a few weeks ago and was amazed at the number of young people riding around in motorized carts. They weren't disabled, as the were able to get out and pick stuff of the shelf.
There were entire car parks full of them outside theme park rides.
My friend has gotten comments about this before. She's in her mid thirties and can get up to get items from the shelf and whatnot, but has severe mobility issues all the same due to Huntingtons Disease. She uses the motorized carts. Being able to get stuff from shelves does not mean the person was not disabled. There are a lot of disabilities that can effect mobility where the person can still walk short distances but could not tolerate walking around a store or a theme park.
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Old 10 November 2011, 01:47 PM
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Despite living in Heaven's waiting room, I rarely see anyone in a motorized cart at all, but when I do it's nearly always an elderly person or an obese person.

The US is a big place, so anecdotes don't really reflect on Americans as a whole.
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  #13  
Old 10 November 2011, 07:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post
What doesn't ring true. The statement was that she was amazed at the number of them, not that it was meant to prove anything.
It doesn't ring true as a description of average American life. If you go out shopping or whatever, you don't often see people riding around in little mobility scooters. It's not even a realistic description of what goes on at any theme parks I've been to. I've seen carts like that at some of the bigger amusement parks in Florida, but the typical user is not a child but a grandparent, unless the child is joyriding on their grandparents. Those big Disney type rides might have hundreds of people in line on a busy day, so it's possible there might be a couple accumulating out front.

In my everday life, I see hundreds of pedestrians walking around each day and usually don't see a motorized pedestrian vehicle. When I do, often it's one particular quadriplegic guy who lives downtown and drives his wheelchair super fast with loud music, or occasionally a group of disabled people making a day trip or a flock of tourists taking a tour on Segways. Rarely you'll see a very heavy or old person on a mobility scooter, but it's not an everyday thing, and if they have kids with them the kids walk.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chloe View Post
Or maybe the parking lot where they store carts for disabled visitors when they are not in use? Anyone who parked in the lot is obviously not using their cart to get around the park.
I've seen a place like that near the entrance to some of the big parks, where the park stores a bunch of them so they can loan them out to elderly or disabled visitors, but it's not accurate to say they have those near individual rides.

Last edited by Errata; 10 November 2011 at 07:17 PM.
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  #14  
Old 10 November 2011, 02:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post
It's sounds extremely dubious, but it reminds me of a comment I heard recently.

My sister went to the USA a few weeks ago and was amazed at the number of young people riding around in motorized carts. They weren't disabled, as the were able to get out and pick stuff of the shelf.
There were entire car parks full of them outside theme park rides.
I have no idea what you are talking about. Where was your sister? And how many is the number she is talking about.

You seem to be implying that they are using the carts instead of walking out of laziness. I have honestly never witnessed anything like that.

She was talking about carts as in Rascals, not mopeds, right?
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  #15  
Old 10 November 2011, 02:42 PM
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What is a Rascal?
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  #16  
Old 10 November 2011, 02:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chloe View Post
What is a Rascal?
My research indicates this is a Rascal



ETA: but I might be wrong.
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  #17  
Old 10 November 2011, 03:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post
There were entire car parks full of them outside theme park rides.
I can't even figure out what this is supposed to mean. I've never seen a theme park ride with a car park -- that's a synonym for parking lot, right? -- outside of it. And the only vehicles I've ever seen parked outside a theme park ride are strollers and wagons.

And I'll second that your sister was not qualified to judge whether someone in a cart was disabled or not.
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  #18  
Old 10 November 2011, 03:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lainie View Post
And I'll second that your sister was not qualified to judge whether someone in a cart was disabled or not.
No one who is not a doctor with direct access to the person's files is qualified to judge whether someone needs a scooter. There are a great many "invisible" disabilities.

Even seeing the person walking around on another day proves nothing, because many people have good days and bad days, or can handle short walks but not long ones.
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  #19  
Old 10 November 2011, 03:29 PM
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I wonder if Skeptic's sister didn't perhaps happen upon an outing of an organized group of people with some sort of disability/disease. That would explain a large concentration of carts at theme park rides.
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