Ride the leather express

Following one of my recent kayaking trips down the Ararat River I tossed my kayak over my shoulder and began the two-mile trek back to my house. It’s something I do about twice a week.

As I walked along the greenway a very nice gentleman told me I needed a take-out vehicle. My answer is that I did have one. I had the leather express.

My years in the infantry taught me many valuable lessons, one of which is that you can walk anywhere. This leather express took me up and down mountains in Afghanistan, all over Fort Benning, Georgia, and to places in Alaska with views I can’t possibly put into words.

Not to brag, but I once made the 12-mile trip from Malamute Drop Zone on Fort Richardson, Alaska, back to our company in 95 minutes with 50 or more pounds on my back.

The leather express is my choice of transportation when the speed at which our world operates doesn’t get in the way. It’s a great way to avoid the high cost of gas, and more importantly it’s great exercise.

I’ve turned toward walking as a means of exercise since having my second hip surgery almost two years ago (yes, the leather express can break-down from time to time).

I’m not writing this to reminisce about all the places the leather express has taken me over the years. Walking is exercise that has a great many benefits. Sadly, technology has phased out many of the steps we take in our daily lives.

The other week I was driving through Mount Airy as I set-out on a trip to Washington, D.C. I looked over the dashboard of my truck to see two figures riding on two-wheeled vehicles that looked like they came straight out of the Jettsons.

When I arrived in D.C. for the memorial ceremony I was attending I saw droves of tourists riding around on these segways. I also remember seeing a group of tourists riding around Anchorage on these designed-by-dorks machines last summer.

It didn’t appear that any of the folks were disabled, and they also weren’t moving any faster than most people can walk. It seems that technology won’t stop at ruining the grammar of our children via text messaging and changing the way the business world operates with email. Technology seems destined to threaten our health.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases one third of adults were obese in 2014. When figures for overweight individuals are added to that, 68 percent of American adults aren’t living at a healthy body weight.

A scarier statistic regards our future. Obesity statistics for children and adolescents, the folks who one day will be the ones running our country and taking care of us old folks, continue to be on the rise. One in six children in the United States is obese.

Obesity can lead to a number of health issues later in life. These include Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and non-alcohol related liver disease. Each of these is potentially life-threatening. However, according to the Center for Disease Control heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

According to MedicineNet.com a 150 pound male burns about 100 calories for every mile he walks. That calorie count increases proportionally with weight. Additionally, the exercise can be easily worked into the average day of an individual.

The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of intermittent moderate intensity physical activity per day. That’s a number easily reached when one takes simple steps such as walking to town for lunch and running short errands on your feet instead of in your car.

I often see folks spending upwards of five minutes driving around the Wal-Mart parking lot in search of that prime place to park their vehicle. These people would sacrifice five minutes of time to shorten the journey from their car door to the store entrance by 20 or 30 feet. Just park the car and enjoy the health benefits of a few extra steps.

With healthcare costs on the rise and the future of America at stake it would seem like the leather express ought to become a little more prevalent in our society.

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