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Trim The Gas Budget And Your Waistline

By Tracie Johanson

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, gasoline prices appear to be on automatic pilot to the moon. As reported by on 9-5-05, "Drivers paid an average of about $3.20 a gallon for unleaded regular on Monday, up $1.35 from a year ago, and 75 cents more than they did before the hurricane".

Higher gas prices are putting a big dent in the budget of the average citizen, leaving many with less disposable income for essentials like food and clothing.

But Americans can take solace in the news that there is a way to dramatically lower gasoline costs, while at the same time shrinking our waistlines. The answer is to start walking to work, to the store, and anywhere else it's practical to do so. Walking is great exercise and doesn't require a trip to the gas pump.

According to, a 160 lb. person who spends thirty minutes walking to work will burn approximately 145 calories. An uphill walk will boost that calorie burn to 218 calories, and "race-walking will increase that to a whopping 236 calories.

Taking a thirty-minute walk to work would burn approximately 725 calories per week. Since each pound of fat is comprised of 3,500 calories, walking to work would burn about one pound of fat every five weeks. That translates to at least ten pounds of fat loss in just one year. That's an impressive feat, since according to the Federal Citizen Information Center "Even a small weight loss of 10 to 20 pounds can improve your health, for example by lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels".

Changing how we get to work will, however, make one thing heavier: our wallets. As a whole, Americans do not drive fuel-efficient cars. As reported by on 6-20-05, "Federal mileage standards -- 20.7 mpg for light trucks and 27.5 mpg for cars last year -- are little changed since 1985 (though the light-truck standard is slated to rise to 22.2 mpg by 2008). As a result, the average mileage of U.S. passenger vehicles peaked in 1988 and has fallen slightly since".

Assuming a two-mile commute to and from work, walking instead of driving would save twenty miles of driving per week. That's a savings of about three dollars per week, or $156 per year.

With summer temperatures finally dropping, and gas prices still rising, the best time to get started on a new walking program is now.

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