Transportation, Health and Happiness

Transportation Health.jpgYour commute may be contributing to your well-being. Read on to learn how to turn it into a source of happiness.


Is how you get to work or school serving as a source of stress in your life? According to a study by Portland State University, single-driver commuters were among the least happy in an assessment of commuter well-being (taking into account stress, boredom, congestion, travel time, among other factors) (Smith, 2017). The happiest? Bicycle commuters.

Over 75 percent of U.S. workers drive alone to work, take an average of 25 minutes to get there, and spend much of their time stopped in traffic (McKenzie & Rapino, 2011). Depending on the distance of your commute, in traveling via bicycle, you could save time and money by combining commuting and exercise, finding non-congested routes via bike lanes or trails, and in not having to search and pay for parking.

Worried about affording a bike? Let’s look at the numbers: A bicycle costs $50-200 to maintain annually if ridden 2,000 annual miles, averaging 5-15¢ per mile (VTPI, 2011). In driving a vehicle, however, we accrue operating costs (gas, maintenance and tires) of approximately 19.64 cents per mile (AAA, 2012). With an average total daily driving distance in the U.S. of 29 miles, or just over 50 minutes behind the wheel, this works out to $2,078.89 to operate a vehicle each year; more than 40 times more expensive than operating a bicycle. This estimate doesn’t even include the cost of the vehicle itself or insurance.

Is the environment your top priority? Transportation accounts for 36 percent  of our nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and the largest sector of that is passenger cars (EPA, 2018). Transportation is the highest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the nation (EPA, 2018). Riding a bike as your form of transit directly decreases emissions and helps improve our air quality.

Perhaps you are most worried about your health. Did you know that the health benefits of active transportation can outweigh any risks associated with these activities by as much as 77 to 1? They also add more years to our lives than are lost from inhaled air pollution and traffic injuries (Rojas-Rueda et al., 2011; Jacobsen and Rutter, 2012) Riding a bike is associated with increased:

  • life expectancy
  • cardiovascular fitness
  • strength
  • balance and flexibility
  • endurance and stamina
  • calories burned
  • cognition
  • energy

With improved happiness and health, what is there to lose?

For more information, including how to overcome common bike commuter barriers, see USU Extension’s Biking as an Alternative Mode of Transportation fact sheet, here https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2550&context=extension_curall


This article was written by Roslynn Brain, Sustainable Communities Extension Specialist with USU Extension, Moab

Sources:

AAA Association Communication. (2012). Your driving costs. Retrieved from: http://exchange.aaa.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Your-Driving-Costs-20122.pdf

Alliance for Biking and Walking. (2014). Bicycling and walking in the United States: 2014 benchmarking report. Retrieved from: https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/livable-communities/documents-2014/2014-Bike-Walk-Benchmarking-Report.pdf

Jacobsen, P. & Rutter, H. (2012). Cycling Safety. In Pucher, J., Buehler, R. (Eds.), City Cycling (141-156). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

McKenzie, B., & Rapino, M. (2011, September). Commuting in the United States: 2009. Retrieved from the U.S. Census Bureau:https://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/acs-15.pdf

Rojas-Rueda, D., Nazelle, A.,Tainio, M., & Nieuwenhuijsen, M. (2011, August 4). The health risks and benefits of cycling in urban environments compared with car use: Health impact assessment study. British Medical Journal, 343:d4521.

Smith, O. (2017). Commute well-being differences by mode: Evidence from Portland, Oregon, USA. Journal of Transport & Health, 4, 246-254. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214140516302407#

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (2018). Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2016. Retrieved from: https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/inventory-us-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-sinks

Victoria Transport Policy Institute (VTPI). (2011). Transportation cost and benefit analysis II – Vehicle Costs. Retrieved from:http://www.vtpi.org/tca/tca0501.pdf

 




Add Some Mindfulness to Your Movement

Mindfulness to Movement.jpg

Are you struggling to fit physical activity into your routine? Try a different approach, and be mindful about your movement. 


It’s no secret that engaging in regular physical activity offers a number of health benefits – from decreasing the risk of developing chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer, to promoting better sleep and improving mental health. Yet according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around four out of five adults in America fall short of weekly physical activity recommendations (CDC, 2015a; CDC, 2014).

 

Both the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that adults between the ages of 18-64 aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate level activity. This includes brisk walking, mowing the lawn with a push mower, water aerobics, or riding a bicycle on flat terrain; or 75 minutes of vigorous level activity, such as playing sports (i.e., tennis or soccer), jogging, riding a bicycle on a path with inclines, or hiking (CDC, 2015b; WHO, n.d.). Additionally, adults should incorporate two strength training sessions per week targeting all major muscle groups (CDC, 2015b; WHO, n.d.).

 

People often have a desire to be more physically active, but there are many barriers that can get in the way. A survey given to adult women found that lack of time, fatigue/lack of energy, no one to exercise with, lack of a place to exercise, pain/discomfort, and lack of motivation, were all barriers to engaging in physical activity (Adachi-Mejia & Schifferdecker, 2016). In order to reap all the health benefits exercise has to offer, finding ways to overcome barriers and increase physical activity levels is essential. However, the way we approach exercise may also have a significant impact on health (Calogero & Pedrotty, 2007). According to Calogero and Pedrotty (2007), mindless physical activity involves exercising solely for the intent to lose weight or change body shape, adhering to a rigid exercise schedule with no flexibility, and/or exercising to compensate for calories eaten. This type of exercise promotes a disconnection from the body and how it feels and it may involve continuing to exercise when sick or injured or in extreme weather conditions (Calogero & Pedrotty, 2007; Tribole & Resch, 2017). This type of exercise may promote disordered thinking patterns around exercise and eating, and it and may lead to injury (Calogero & Pedrotty, 2007).

 

In contrast, to encourage a healthy relationship with exercise, Calogero & Pedrotty (2007) and Tribole & Resch (2017) recommend mindful exercise, which involves paying attention to the process of engaging in physical activity and listening to your body, rather than focusing solely on the desired end result. This involves tuning into the physical sensations in your body as you are moving including your heart rate, breath, and the feeling of your muscles as they contract and relax (Tribole & Resch, 2017). Mindful physical activity has the following characteristics:

  1.     It revitalizes the body, rather than drains it of energy;
  2.     It allows you to connect with your body and its sensations so you can respond to them, instead of encouraging you to “push through” an activity that may cause discomfort;
  3.     It helps with managing stress, rather than contributing to it;
  4.     It is fun and enjoyable, which makes you want to continue (Calogero & Pedrotty, 2007; Tribole & Resch, 2017).

 

A critical step to becoming more physically active is finding enjoyable physical activities. A systematic review of several studies found that people who reported enjoyment during exercise were more likely to engage in exercise in the future (Rhodes & Kates, 2015). Additionally, thinking outside of the box and recognizing that physical activity does not have to be done at a gym or on sports team, may be useful. The World Health Organization acknowledges leisure activities that involve movement such as dancing and gardening, household tasks such as mowing the lawn, and play with children or pets as movement that contributes to total physical activity (WHO, n.d.). Additionally, activity can occur in a large chunk of time or it can be spread out in small increments (i.e., 10 minutes at a time, four times per day) (WHO, n.d.).

Still not sure where to begin? Tribole and Resch (2017) recommend taking time to think through the environment and types of activities that would be most enjoyable to you. Here are some questions to ask yourself (Tribole & Resch, 2017):

  1.     Would I rather exercise alone or in a group?
  2.     Do I prefer to be outdoors or indoors?
  3.     What would I enjoy doing that is realistic given my current level of fitness?
  4.     Do I want to choose an activity that makes me feel more relaxed or energetic after I finish?
  5.     Is there a new activity I am interested in, but haven’t tried before?
  6.     How can I see physical activity as part of my self-care routine?
  7.     What is the best time to fit exercise in my schedule?

Note: People with certain chronic health conditions should check with their doctor prior to beginning a physical activity routine (CDC, 2015a).


Brittany BingemanThis article was written by Brittany Bingeman. Brittany studied family and consumer sciences and nutrition/dietetics and she is passionate about health and wellness with a holistic approach. She enjoys teaching about mindful and intuitive eating to help people improve their relationship with food as well as other important family and life skills. Originally from Georgia, she enjoys spending time exploring beautiful southern Utah and the western states. She enjoys spending time with her husband, cooking, reading, listening to podcasts, hiking, jogging, and yoga. Brittany can be reached at brittany.bingeman@usu.edu or 435-634-5706.

References

Adachi-Mejia, A.M., & Schifferdecker, K.E. (2016). A mixed-methods approach to assessing barriers to physical activity among women with class I, class II, and class III obesity. Public Health, 139, 212-215. doi:10.1016/j.puhe.2016.04.013

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2015, June 4a). Physical activity and health. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2015, June 4b). How much physical activity do adults need? Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2014, May 23). Facts about physical activity. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/data/facts.htm

Calogero, R., & Pedrotty, K. (2007). Daily practices for mindful exercise. In L. L’Abate, D. Embry, & M. Baggett (Eds.), Handbook of low-cost preventative interventions for physical activity and mental health: Theory, research, and practice (141-160). New York, NY: Springer-Verlag.

Rhodes, R.E., & Kates, A. (2015). Can the affective response to exercise predict future motives and physical activity behavior? A systematic review of published evidence. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 49(5), 715-731. doi:10.1007/s12160-015-9704-5

Tribole, E. & Resch, E. (2017). Principle nine. Exercise: Feel the difference. In J. Eastman (Ed.), The intuitive eating workbook: 10 principles for nourishing a healthy relationship with food (199-224). Oakland, CA: New Harbor Publications, Inc.

World Health Organization (WHO). (n.d.). Physical activity and adults: Recommended levels of physical activity for adults aged 18 – 64 years. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/factsheet_adults/en/

 




Ask an Expert // When to Plant? That is the Question

When to Plant.jpg

Even if it is too early to plant, it’s never too early to start planning your garden. Learn from USU Extension gardening expert Taun Beddes when you can safely plant your vegetable garden.


One day it is sunny and warm, and the next day it is raining and cold. Or in northern Utah, it could even be snowing.

Determining when to plant a garden can be especially confusing in Utah’s unpredictable, varied climate where last-frost dates can vary by many days within just a few miles. Many experienced gardeners have planted and later lost their plants to frost.

As you determine when you should plant, consider the geographic characteristics of where you live. When a yard is located in a populated area or on a mountain bench, it usually has a longer growing season. Other areas located at slightly lower elevations where cold air drains and cannot escape have a shorter season. This is why local commercial orchards are generally located on benches. Additionally, urban and suburban areas are slightly warmer than surrounding areas due to the urban heat effect. Heat from buildings and warmth generated by sunlight reflected from roads and other surfaces increases temperatures and delays frost. It can be helpful to chat with a local farmer or experienced gardener in your area to determine what works for him or her regarding when to plant.

In addition to frost information, it is important to take into account the needs of the plants. Vegetables planted locally fall into four basic categories: hardy, semi-hardy, tender and very tender. Depending on which category a plant belongs to, planting dates vary from early spring until early summer. Consider the following:

  • Hardy vegetables, including asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, onions, peas and spinach, can be planted as soon as the soil is workable in early spring. This usually ranges between 45 and 60 days before the average last frost. These same vegetables can be safely planted until the average last frost date.
  • Semi-hardy plants, such as beets, carrots, lettuce and potatoes, can be planted one to two weeks after the hardy group. These can be planted until the average last-frost date.
  • Tender vegetables, such as celery, cucumbers, corn and most beans, should be planted on the average last-frost date.
  • Very tender plants, such as squash, beans, melons, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers, should not be planted until at least a week after the average last frost. Even if frost does not occur before this time, these plants will not grow well and are more susceptible to disease until warmer weather.

If you have lost plants to frost, you are not alone, and all you can do is try again.

Average Frost Dates for Various Utah Locations (Note that these dates are averages and can vary from year to year.)
        Frost Dates
City Last First Frost-Free Days
Alpine May 20 September 30 136
Blanding May 13 October 12 153
Cedar City May 10 October 5 148
Delta May 17 September 28 134
Farmington May 5 October 10 158
Fillmore May 16 October 4 140
Huntsville June 11 September 9  89
Kanab May 7 October 20 166
Lake Town June 15 September 10  87
Logan May 14 September 25 135
Morgan June 6 September 11 98
Moroni June 1 September 18 109
Ogden May 1 October 24 176
Park City June 9 September 1  92
Price May 12 October 7 148
Roosevelt May 18 September 25 130
Spanish Fork May 1 October 13 165
St. George April 6 October 28 205
Tooele May 7 October 14 159
Tremonton May 3 October 10 160

This article was written by Taun Beddes, Utah State University Extension horticulturist, 801-851-8460, taun.beddes@usu.edu




Put Your Best Fork Forward// Small Changes to Help You Find Balance

Put Your Best Fork Forward.jpgMarch is National Nutrition Month! To help spread its message this month, we’ve got five recommendations for ways you can “Put Your Best Fork Forward.”


  1. Focus on small changes. The Dietary Guidelines recommend starting with small changes that add up to lasting lifestyle changes over time. Perhaps that means starting your day with breakfast, drinking more water or reaching for fruits/vegetables at snack time.
  2. Prepare more meals at home. Gather your family around the table, share a healthy meal and make memories at the same time. Remember to talk positively about healthy foods—your kids are listening!

  3. Make your plate MyPlate. Focus on the five food groups and fill your plate with lean protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and a serving of low-fat dairy on the side.

  4. Choose healthful options when dining out. Request healthy side dishes and ask for modifications to be sure the meal meets your nutritional goals. Practice portion control by bringing half the food home for another meal.

  5. Find that balance. Weight management comes down to calories in versus calories out, so be sure to find that balance between the two by eating the right amount of food to meet your needs while finding ways to move your body through physical activity.  

This article was written by Kaitlin Anderson, news@postbulletin.com.