Friends, family members and coworkers warned me when I left New York City not to get fat moving home to the Midwest. I’d like to set the record straight about the Midwest being inactive and overweight.
Day-to-day tasks in New York undoubtedly helped keep me fit and trim, but my lifestyle in Missouri has helped me shed an additional twenty pounds, run my first half-marathon, and hike more than 60 miles so far of the Ozark Trail.
When I lived in New York, I took yoga classes, jogged occasionally, and worked out at the YMCA. I walked at least a half-mile each day as part of my daily commute, so I was active. The day-to-day tasks were also harder in New York, though, which left me less time and less energy when I worked out.
Now that I’m back in Missouri, I go on hard runs several days each week. I spend my weekends mountain biking, hiking and camping. Running in 5-mile and 10K road races has become a hobby, and it’s not uncommon for me to take a 10-15 mile road ride on my mountain bike before hitting the gym on Saturdays or Sundays.
The greatest part about being active in the Midwest? I’m not alone. The Go! St. Louis Halloween 10K drew 4,500 runners, making it the “largest 10K in St. Louis History” (http://www.gostlouis.org/). The Go! St. Louis Half Marathon sold out last year before I could register, and the running scene in St. Louis is substantial enough that I’ve run into (I thought you’d appreciate that pun) someone I know at every single race I’ve run in 2010.
The Midwest isn’t just for runners though. I’ve found groups who rock climb, mountain bike, kayak, canoe, and hike. The YMCAs I use here are at full capacity during peak hours of the day, and several of them are undergoing expansion projects to accommodate the increase in demand in their communities.
The Midwest has traditionally had a reputation as being overweight, but I believe that I’m part of a growing undercurrent of the population who are determined to live better, to live healthier, and to live longer. If you’re in the Midwest, what are you waiting for? It’s never too late to take that first step towards a healthier life.