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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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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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Old 10 November 2011, 12:51 AM
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I have to believe they study is looking at walking outdoors, because I'm sure the average person does more than 350 yards getting around the house or the office. I'm sure I throw off the numbers either way since I commonly walk 2-3 miles a day.
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Old 10 November 2011, 01:14 AM
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Sounds dubious for the reasons people have mentioned. Also when you're talking about numbers like this you have to be careful throwing around words like "average" when you mean "median". Just a modest percentage of active walkers would throw the average way off, even if the whole rest of the nation were as sedentary as that, which I doubt.

I usually walk up to a mile away, sometimes more, just to go out to lunch. Which is around 1.5 miles round trip, every weekday, just from one thing. Sometimes I walk to work, which is a few more miles roundtrip. If I do drive someplace I'll frequently park several blocks away just for better parking which can add another half mile or more round trip.
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  #9  
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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  #10  
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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  #11  
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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  #12  
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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  #14  
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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  #15  
Old 10 November 2011, 01:57 PM
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geminilee geminilee is offline
 
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Exactly, greenfrog. I use the carts from time to time, and I will frequently stand briefly to grab something from a higher shelf, or get something out of those freezer doors that are so difficult to open and get into when you are using the cart. Just because someone can walk at all does not mean that they can walk the entire length of the store pushing a cart, then out to their car, then however far they have to from their car to their house.

I get dirty looks and comments, also. Once when I was about 16 someone said something about it when my older sister was with me, and she totally went off on them. Looking healthy isn't the same as being healthy, not by a long shot. I sometimes feel like people feel they have the right to make snarky comments because I had the bad fortune to be hit with a non-disfiguring disability.
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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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  #17  
Old 10 November 2011, 02:42 PM
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What is a Rascal?
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  #18  
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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  #19  
Old 10 November 2011, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geminilee View Post
I sometimes feel like people feel they have the right to make snarky comments because I had the bad fortune to be hit with a non-disfiguring disability.
My stepmother has really bad arthritis in her feet and knees and walking distances is painful. She doesn't have a handicapped sticker yet nor does she use a cart - she just takes a lot of Advil and is stoic about it - but if she continues to degenerate I think she might need some assistance for the long walks she likes to take through fairs and shopping places like Canton. She can stand and reach quite easily but lots of people will be pretty much homebound if they can't walk further than a few steps.

She's a little overweight but not especially. I think she would have had this arthritis no matter what she had done.
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  #20  
Old 10 November 2011, 02:48 PM
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A Rascal is a scooter designed for elderly and disabled people. Google Rascal Scooter and you can see what they look like.

Last edited by Beachlife!; 10 November 2011 at 03:16 PM.
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