I recently was lucky enough to enjoy a dream vacation in Paris, France. While I was taking in the sights and eats, I couldn’t help but notice differences in activity levels compared to being in the U.S. In Paris, we saw many walkers, runners, and bicyclists getting to and from work. People walk to get their groceries, to meet their friends, and, of course, to shop. We walked an average of 12 miles a day (stats thanks to FitBit!) touring the sites. The benefit of putting in these miles? Stopping to refuel with cafe Americano’s (the French like their coffee black) and chocolate croissants throughout the day! Despite all of the wine, cheese, and bread in the French diet, obesity rates are only about 10%, compared to over 27% in the United States. Others have speculated that the active lifestyle in France helps more people keep their weight down.
Just one of our many dessert breaks.
Paris does have an extensive metro system but elevators and escalators are a rare sight. Instead, each station has lots and lots of steps. The metro cars generally had more room to stand than to sit. In fact, many of the seats in the metro are folded up and need to be pushed down to sit in them.
This is me tired from walking 12 miles, and then having to do 50 steps in the metro, but smiling for the camera!
Some of the locals Parisians whom I talked with told me that they believe Americans work too much. Others found it surprising that standing desks were not standard options in many offices in the United States. Folks seemed very conscious that a sedentary lifestyle is one that could kill you. They’ve even been introducing standing desks into classrooms to improve concentration and health. Interestingly though, many Parisians haven’t caught on that smoking does similar harm to your body.
The French were right about Americans working a lot. America is the only country that does not have laws set for a maximum length of a work week. Compared to the French, Americans work an extra 499 hours per year than the French do. That’s an extra 62.4, 8-hour workdays a year! We also noticed that when lunch time rolled around, businesses closed for TWO hours and cafes kicked into high gear serving wine and foie gras.
We’re glad to be back in the United States, but really enjoyed taking in the culture, lifestyle, and food of France. But i’m especially lucky to have the option to get back onto a Rebel Desk treadmill desk instead of plopping back into an office chair after my wonderful and busy vacation!
Obligatory Eiffel Tower picture!
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