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People who walk faster live longer
August 15, 2007 11:32 PM   Subscribe

Why New Yorkers Last Longer. Interestingly, urban theorists believe it is not just the tightly packed nature of the city but also its social and economic density that has life-giving properties. When you’re jammed, sardinelike, up against your neighbors, it’s not hard to find a community of people who support you—friends or ethnic peers—and this strongly correlates with better health and a longer life. [New York Magazine article]
posted by nickyskye (75 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
And I assumed it was because they were just too mean to die. And maybe, had to walk a little more every day.
posted by emjaybee at 12:03 AM on August 16, 2007


all the long-lived new yorkers who previously moved to florida can no longer tolerate florida.
posted by bruce at 12:04 AM on August 16, 2007


This city, once known as a capital of vice and self-destruction, is now a capital of longevity.

What happened to you, New York? You used to be cool.
posted by stavrogin at 12:09 AM on August 16, 2007 [8 favorites]


Btw, anyone else reminded of those cholesterol commercials? "High cholesterol can come from deep fried babies or your Great Aunt Bebe."
posted by stavrogin at 12:12 AM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


A bit of a tangent - Brooklyn typology - a psychogeographic investigation.
posted by peacay at 12:20 AM on August 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


Much better tangent than mine, peacay :)
posted by Poolio at 12:25 AM on August 16, 2007


Or maybe it's the difficulty finding a decent hospital and a decent family doctor outside of very urban core cities.
posted by Kickstart70 at 12:30 AM on August 16, 2007


Statistically, I think numbers add up to nothing...say the reason for the #1 rating is its population size. Go NYC!
posted by thomcatspike at 12:48 AM on August 16, 2007


I'd always assumed that in NYC (my former home of 11 years), whatever good stuff there is on the plus side is easily pulled back down into the minus by the "I'm-so-enraged-at-the-goddamn-subway-system-my-head's-about-to-explode" factor. That kind of daily frustration is bound to have sliced off at least a year or two from my lifespan.

But perhaps the last 12 years of riding the Tokyo trains, running at hitherto unimaginable levels of punctuality, has given me that year or two back!

Looking forward to reading the article, though. Thanks for the link!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:56 AM on August 16, 2007


Alas, this is why I, as a rural hick, will die an early death! *sob*
posted by amyms at 1:17 AM on August 16, 2007


Why New Yorkers Last Longer.

Someone please tell me I wasn't the only one inspired with impure thoughts upon reading this.
posted by Avenger at 1:31 AM on August 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


And I assumed it was because they were just too mean to die.

Fuck you.
posted by ryoshu at 1:35 AM on August 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


People who walk faster live longer

You call that living?
posted by three blind mice at 2:59 AM on August 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


So will they start calling it Old York then?
posted by srboisvert at 4:16 AM on August 16, 2007


I figured out the whole walk faster thing. People in NY just have much more practice at walking. Of course there's more speed.

This led to things like a bunch of us on vacation doing a hikethe NPS recommends as 4-5 hours in 2-2 1/2 hours. I would have preferred a bit slower due to altitude acclimation stuff that hit me like a ton of bricks for whatever reason, but not twice as slow.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:23 AM on August 16, 2007


I used to have a hard time keeping up with certain friends of mine in NYC: I knew folks who walked really fucking fast. They tended to be people living way over in the further reaches of alphabet city, say, 7th St. between C and D. It's a looooong hike to the nearest subway (Lexington Avenue line at Astor Place), so I think some of those folks just started walking really fast out of necessity.

Interestingly, Tokyo, which people generally think of as an epitome of urban hubbub, is full of people who mostly walk very sloooooowwww... That really surprised me when I first moved here. They're also really not good about getting out of the way of their fellow pedestrians in a hurry. I've often thought that they are curiously oblivious to other pedestrians, in this respect.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:37 AM on August 16, 2007


I would think we last longer because the air is thicker, so we get more ... nutrients?
posted by papercake at 5:07 AM on August 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Interestingly enough, New Yorkers were found to walk eighth fastest on average among cities in 32 countries. Tokyo, FWIW, was 19th.
posted by armage at 5:10 AM on August 16, 2007


Intelligence is also positively correlated to lifespan. I'm not claiming I have scientific evidence that New Yorkers are of above average intelligence, but anecdotally, look at the competition.
posted by Flunkie at 6:00 AM on August 16, 2007


I recall reading something about how, when an entire 100 year old "slummy" neighborhood was demolished and replaced with Lincoln Center, the residents were relocated to brand new "better" housing, and there was a much higher mortality rate among the elderly. Probably something to do with the web of relationships that had grown over time.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:02 AM on August 16, 2007


Wow. Turns out dying and sick people walk slower.
posted by MtDewd at 6:11 AM on August 16, 2007


Armage, that list is complete and utter bullshit. I walk fast. In London, I was able to cope more or less, if not for the tourists. I've been in Madrid for three months now and not a day goes by that I do not want to punch several zombie-shufflers in the back of the head. It's ridiculous, even my non-fast walker friends have started complaining. Definitely something is odd with the study.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:12 AM on August 16, 2007


Yes, our sidewalks are occupied by two kinds of pedestrians: slow-moving tourists and the exasperated, impatient New Yorkers stuck behind them on the sidewalks of midtown. Welcome to New York. Walk faster, people!
posted by zarq at 6:12 AM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's just because New Yorkers aren't exposed to dangerous implements like snow blowers, lawn mowers or threshers? Every year, heart attacks while snow blowing and heads chopped off in thresher incidents knock out a third of our population.
posted by drezdn at 6:15 AM on August 16, 2007



No mention of cars?

The last time I read a similar article about NYC it was about how children had the best chance of survival here over anywhere else in the country. And the answer was pretty simple -- most people in NYC do not drive frequently.

Less time in cars means less likely to die in a car wreck means longer average life span, right? Since it's an average, a smaller number of kids getting killed would improve the average significantly.
posted by malphigian at 6:19 AM on August 16, 2007


At the very end the author talks about a study suggesting that weight/walking effects were self-selection: thin, active people move to cities.

Which brings up another question, did the life-expectancy studies control for immigration? It appears that immigrants tend to live longer for reasons that may have nothing to do with cities, and immigrants tend to live in NYC.
posted by thrako at 6:23 AM on August 16, 2007


When the revolution comes, the slow walkers are first against the wall.
posted by dame at 6:49 AM on August 16, 2007


So, the terrorists didn't win, eh?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:57 AM on August 16, 2007


Preach it, dame. As for longevity, the next New Yorker who stops to make a cell-phone call while descending into the subway ahead of me will have his/her life expectancy *drastically* shortened.
posted by GrammarMoses at 7:07 AM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well if I had a rent control apartment, I'd refuse to die too.
posted by R. Mutt at 7:07 AM on August 16, 2007 [9 favorites]


What happened to you, New York? You used to be cool.

New York, I love you, but you're bringing me down.
posted by sparkletone at 7:12 AM on August 16, 2007


I hd lived in the City (aka New York) for a time and then moved. Now, years later, when I visit, I am amazed at just how great it truly is. I found that I preferred walking all over because there was so much to see, to note. And yes. Walking faster is a part of it and anyone who knows anything about pys ed knows that rate of pace gives more benefits. And some of the best doctors are to be found in the City.

I have been to many or most of the best -known cities in the U.S., and though I love Boston, have lived in S.F., have been to D.C., Philly, Atlanta, L.A., Denver etc--nothing but nothing is like--(ready) The Big Apple. Nothing.
posted by Postroad at 7:16 AM on August 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Less time in cars means less likely to die in a car wreck

That's probably offset by the number of kids run over by assholes on bikes who think it's a good idea to just blaze through a red light without looking for pedestrians about to cross.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:18 AM on August 16, 2007


So we live longer, but we'll always feel like we're dying.
posted by fungible at 7:18 AM on August 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


I used to have a hard time keeping up with certain friends of mine in NYC: I knew folks who walked really fucking fast. They tended to be people living way over in the further reaches of alphabet city, say, 7th St. between C and D

I miss the old New York for which walking fast between the blocks of C and D had nothing to do with catching the train - it had to do with actual survival...

Now I'm going to go listen to "It's So Cruel" by Billy Idol and mourn the death of my city once again.
posted by any major dude at 7:41 AM on August 16, 2007


When the revolution comes, the slow walkers are first against the wall.

And the inline skaters next.

God damned skaters taking up the whole bike path with their god damned legs kicking out back and forth. Get out of my way!
posted by papercake at 7:48 AM on August 16, 2007


Dear Confused Tourists,

     Welcome to New York City! On behalf of the residents of this fine town, please allow me to elaborate on some of the cultural mores and expectations that you may not be familiar with.
  1. If there is space in front of you, fill it. This means do not leave block-long gaps in front of you when strolling down 7th Ave while those of us with places to go shove past your lazy asses. Yes this means you might have to walk faster than my dead grandmother. Live a little.
  2. The subway system is confusing. I was born and raised here and I don't know where all the lines go all the time. The place to figure out what trains to take and where to transfer is in your hotel room, not in the middle of the platform, right in front of the stairway.
  3. Yes, we know there are fantastic buildings here. Yes they're tall. Yes they're very tall. No, they don't have any of those in Kansas. Nevertheless, the appropriate place to stand and gawk is the very edge of the sidewalk, not the middle of the street nor immediately in front of the exit to the subway station you just got out of.
  4. It's how-ston. If you ask me where hyoo-ston is, I will say "Texas."
  5. For the love of all that's right and good, don't drive here.
  6. Stay the fuck out of Queens
Thank you for your attention, we hope that you have a pleasant stay. Please note that acting like a stereotypical tourist will get you treated like one.

Sincerely,
The Entire Fucking City Of New York
posted by Skorgu at 8:07 AM on August 16, 2007 [8 favorites]


Yes, we know there are fantastic buildings here. Yes they're tall. No, they don't have any of those in Kansas.

Yes they do. And don't forget Mount Sunflower!
posted by MarshallPoe at 8:17 AM on August 16, 2007


So will they start calling it Old York then?

No, they will just start calling Newark "Newer York".

It's how-ston. If you ask me where hyoo-ston is, I will say "Texas."

Like it's the tourist's fault New Yorkers can't pronounce "Houston".
posted by MikeMc at 8:18 AM on August 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


So wait: a New York magazine publishes an article about how great it is to live in New York? I'm shocked!
posted by NationalKato at 8:25 AM on August 16, 2007


We pronounce it just the same as Mr. Houstoun did, though we did change the spelling by accident.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:27 AM on August 16, 2007


And that led me to reading the Wikipedia, and it claims there's a block long, unsigned remnant of a 13th Avenue that's used to park garbage trucks. Who knew?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:41 AM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


We live longer because people in Ohio and Kansas and Iowa and the Dakotas are dying at younger ages.
Of boredom.
posted by redfisch at 8:58 AM on August 16, 2007


Apparently smugness leads to long life.
posted by drezdn at 9:08 AM on August 16, 2007


Paraphrasing Dylan Moran:

Living in a city increases the chance of stress and high cholesterol. It also increases the chance of sex, good coffee and intelligent conversation.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:17 AM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


We live longer because people in Ohio and Kansas and Iowa and the Dakotas are dying at younger ages.
Of boredom.


Yes, some people really do find it boring to talk endlessly of the joys of walking fast around new york.

sorry, couldn't resist
posted by thrako at 9:35 AM on August 16, 2007


TheOnlyCoolTim, that is such a fascinating detail about 13th Avenue.

Had to Wikipedia it and then found out about the high falootin' sounding Gansevoort Peninsula, which must be a little bump on the side of this almost non-existent 13th Avenue.

Never seen that High Line thing either, which is nearby. ("High Line is the name of a 1.45 mile (2.33 km) section of the former elevated freight railroad of the West Side Line, along the lower west side of New York City borough of Manhattan between 34th Street near the Javits Convention Center and Gansevoort Street in the West Village. The High Line was built in the early 1930s by the New York Central and has been unused by freight service since 1980 and is in a state of disrepair, although the elevated structure is basically sound. Wild grass and plants grow along most of the route.")

An afternoon's walk-and-explore.
posted by nickyskye at 9:36 AM on August 16, 2007


The High Line sounds very cool.
posted by rtha at 9:55 AM on August 16, 2007


OH yeah, the High Line is going to be great. I highly recommend rtha's link -- the slideshow is a must-see (if you can stand the Flash). Might be a good place for a meetup next summer...?
posted by GrammarMoses at 10:33 AM on August 16, 2007


Also, BTW, another place for us to walk fast and live longer. W00t!
posted by GrammarMoses at 10:35 AM on August 16, 2007


Given that the average NY life expectancy is only 9 months greater than the US average (first paragraph, dear readers), and since the article doesn't discuss whether other cities evidence the same trend (note that in 1990 NYCers lived much shorter lives than average Americans), doesn't discuss where and why the longest lived Americans are (it can't be NYC- they only outlive other Americans by 9 months, remember) and is only considering an emergent blip, I am calling bullshit here.

New Yorkers love to obsess about themselves- it's tiresome.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:40 AM on August 16, 2007


Now THAT's eponysterical.
posted by GrammarMoses at 10:47 AM on August 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


I love New York. Here's another reason to. :-)
posted by grubi at 11:06 AM on August 16, 2007


Dear Entire Fucking City Of New York,

On behalf of the tourists of your fine town, please allow me to elaborate on some of the cultural mores and expectations that you may not be familiar with.

1. We'll walk at a pace comfortable to us. We're on vacation you idiot. We're not in a hurry. If you're in a hurry then walk around us or take a cab.

2. The subway system is confusing because of the the signage and design. Fix it and we'll be able to use it as efficiently as you do.

3. We'll gawk and take pictures of your buildings from wherever the best view is. Walk around us if you need to.

4. We pronounce Houston the way the rest of the US does, you're wrong.

5. Believe it or not, we don't want to drive here and we understand the great mystery of using a taxi just as well as you do.

6. Don't worry, we don't want to go to Queens.

Thank you for your attention, we hope that you appreciate our stay. Please note that acting like a stereotypical douchebag New Yorker will get you ignored like one.

Sincerely,
The Tourists
posted by Democritus at 11:37 AM on August 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Being angry all the time *and* living longer? Sounds like a bad deal to me...
posted by i_cola at 11:46 AM on August 16, 2007


we understand the great mystery of using a taxi just as well as you do.

Not the guy I saw last week, who threw open the traffic-side taxi door in to heavy traffic, on lower Broadway at Canal. He rolled out of the cab like he was in his driveway. He came within about 12" of being crushed. It would have been funny.
posted by R. Mutt at 11:53 AM on August 16, 2007


Parroting the nay-sayers that say

1) 9 months is bullshit

2) Oldsters who can't afford to retire in New York will move. Those who can afford to stay. You are far more likely to live to a ripe old age if you are wealthy while living to a ripe old age. I'd like to see the stats after all those who moved to Phase II of del Boca Vista (like my parents) are factored in.

Note to New Yorkers, Tourists, and Metafilter.
Why so down on Queens? New York is the most diverse city in the world and Queens is the most diverse part of New York. As Manhattan more and more looks like a Disneyfied version of McManhattan, it is refreshing to find something real. Come for the real New York. Come to Queens! Plus the Mets are doing well this year.

Second note. How-ston is actually historically correct. The Texas accent may have changed it to Houston, but the original person, (and I believe the original town in Scotland) sounds as How-ston.
Since the rest of the US no longer can pronounce carrot or parrot correctly (hint it is NOT care-it or pare-it) they are in no position to lecture. Fuggedaboutit!
posted by xetere at 12:05 PM on August 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


Second note. How-ston is actually historically correct. The Texas accent may have changed it to Houston, but the original person, (and I believe the original town in Scotland) sounds as How-ston.

In your FACE!
posted by grubi at 1:06 PM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


1. We'll walk at a pace comfortable to us. We're on vacation you idiot. We're not in a hurry. If you're in a hurry then walk around us or take a cab.

3. We'll gawk and take pictures of your buildings from wherever the best view is. Walk around us if you need to.


I'll use an automotive metaphor so car-driving America can understand: When the sidewalks are crowded, these are the equivalents of going 20 mph on the highway or just stopping your car in the travel lane to take scenic pictures.

You can walk slow in Manhattan without pissing anyone off. Just don't do it four and five abreast on a busy sidewalk. You can gawk and take pictured, but you have to "pull over" out of the way. You see, in NY, the sidewalk is not something to use on a lark like in suburbia. It's a serious means of transportation.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:19 PM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


> "...when an entire 100 year old "slummy" neighborhood was demolished and replaced with Lincoln Center, the residents were relocated to brand new "better" housing, and there was a much higher mortality rate among the elderly."

This doesn't surprise me. There have been some decent studies done showing the relocating older people leads to high mortality rates. People who are forced to change living circumstances dramatically are more likely to die than had they just stayed where they were. I think the difference gets more dramatic if the move was nonconsensual -- sticking someone in a retirement home is a good way to off them early.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:01 PM on August 16, 2007


Second note. How-ston is actually historically correct. The Texas accent may have changed it to Houston, but the original person, (and I believe the original town in Scotland) sounds as How-ston.
...
In your FACE!


The actual pronunciation is irrelevant in this case. What I was parodying was that the original poster of the list indicated he would act ignorant of where Houston [street] was if a tourist asked him using the common pronunciation. What is the purpose of that, other than ethnocentrism, not to mention biting one of the hands that feeds you?
posted by Democritus at 2:18 PM on August 16, 2007


Amen, xetere- if I lived in New York, I'd live in Queens, no question. It's the most Toronto-like part of New York, with great Indian and Chinese restos and even lots of roti places.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 2:40 PM on August 16, 2007


I live in Queens. Queens Rules!
posted by jonmc at 4:51 PM on August 16, 2007


xetere, I live in Queens. I'm all for fewer tourists. :D
posted by zarq at 5:59 PM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


5. Believe it or not, we don't want to drive here and we understand the great mystery of using a taxi just as well as you do.

Actually, it seems that y'all don't.

1) Cabs are not for sharing. If someone is already occupying a cab, then it's theirs. Find your own, and don't be offended when the current passenger doesn't want to take a 40-block detour from their destination so you can see Cleopatra's Needle.

2) Cabs have little black signs on top. When the center numbers are lit, then that cab is free to pick up passengers. Waving wildly at taxis that don't have their numbers lit or have their "Off Duty" lights lit is an exercise in futility.

Many tourists don't seem to grasp these things.
posted by zarq at 6:12 PM on August 16, 2007


Big deal. You pretty much have to be rich to live in New York. Rich people have better health care. Whoopee for New York.
posted by Jess the Mess at 7:10 PM on August 16, 2007


It's a serious means of transportation.

Oh, it's catching on in my little town. I just joined a Walking Club where they ease you gently into the Way Of The Sidewalk. It only took me a couple of weeks before we were able to walk rapidly on the sidewalk! I still stop and gape sometimes, or I'll forget and go slowly, causing my Walking Club colleagues to back up behind me and collapse like so many bowling pins. But hey, I wasn't born in New York. We are working on it!
posted by everichon at 7:16 PM on August 16, 2007


Waving wildly at taxis that don't have their numbers lit or have their "Off Duty" lights lit is an exercise in futility.

Bah! Off Duty? In the right direction, right time, off meter ....

"Off Duty is Nothing!"
posted by R. Mutt at 8:32 PM on August 16, 2007


jonmc lives in Queens? Oh shit. I guess I better watch who I talk to, lest I get involved in a conversation about how my favorite band sucks.
posted by fungible at 8:53 PM on August 16, 2007


I miss the old New York for which walking fast between the blocks of C and D had nothing to do with catching the train - it had to do with actual survival...
so do I. Mostly because it kept the riff-raff out. The only people who lived there were those who has the gall to (whether or not they were aware of it.)

Big deal. You pretty much have to be rich to live in New York. Rich people have better health care. Whoopee for New York.
When I first got to NYC (early-mid 80's) it was surprisingly cheap. I always had a hard time understanding why everyone didn't live there. Granted there was a good chance you'd get at least mugged, and maybe shot at, but the benefits were geeeinormous, far outweighing the negatives, especially if one used common sense.

It's too bad that city isn't around anymore but hey, life goes on. Now move the fuck out of my way.
posted by From Bklyn at 5:08 AM on August 17, 2007


Dear Tourists,
      You seem to be laboring under several missaprehensions. Firstly, tourism while a major component of New York City is not the sole purpose of its existence. We are not park attendants and this is not Disneyland New York. No, your vacation is not more important than my commute, your unfamiliarity with the customs and norms (and apparent inability to observe and adopt them) is not a charming affectation that will endear you to the incomprehensible natives. We are not, as a rule, assholes, and you can expect to be treated with the same amount of respect you show the city, and by extension us.
      As an example, Houston street. Leaving aside (fascinating) historical discussions of pronunciation and accent, in New York it is pronounced Howston. This is not to be difficult or unique or to make your lives harder. it is the name of the street. Learning the names and pronunciations of local places is not an insurmountable task, indeed it is common courtesy. This courtesy is not made somehow irrelevant merely because we share a language and currency; you are still foreigners. While visiting Texas, I would not demand directions to "Howston" and then marvel at the quaint local oddities that demand it be pronounced differently.
      New York, and New Yorkers are not fundamentally different from other cities and their residents anywhere else in the world. We are not a different species from those of you living elsewhere, nor is our city an entirely unique creation. The only fundamental difference between New York and Boise Idaho is that there are more natives, more tourists, and less space. Acknowledging that your vacation is not a priority of those whose lives you are touring is not an unconscionable burden, it is common human decency.
      For your own good though, stay out of Queens. Really, it's a terrible place. The oldest permanent structure in New York City isn't here, the geographical center of the city isn't either. We don't have great food, great drinks, fewer crowds and better parking, &c., no siree. And the complete lack of tourist attractions and their accompanying tourists? Ruins the place, ya know?

Sincerely,
The Residents of the Borough of Queens, and those Other Four Places Too I Suppose.
posted by Skorgu at 6:16 AM on August 17, 2007


QUEENS REPRESENT
posted by lampoil at 6:47 AM on August 17, 2007


Also, Jess the Mess, the median income for New York City is lower than that of the entire United States. There are census tracts in the city where the median income drops below $10,000. And yet here we all are, living in New York City, not being rich.
posted by lampoil at 7:02 AM on August 17, 2007


I'd live in Queens, Greenwich and tell people I lived in New York.
posted by MikeMc at 7:40 AM on August 17, 2007


the median income for New York City is lower than that of the entire United States.

lampoil, which income measure are you referring to? As I see it, median family and household income are quite a bit lower in NYC than the US, but median per capita income is a bit higher in NYC. I would think per capita income is the appropriate measure, but it is a tough call, especially seeing as life expectancy is (I believe) an average not a median.
posted by thrako at 11:16 PM on August 17, 2007


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