August 27, 2010

How to Walk Off a Pastrami Sandwich in New York City

Walker Street. Chinatown, New York.
Some people can eat a lot and not gain much weight, but many others will simply gain weight if they eat too much and not exercise. Most of us fit in the latter category. Walking is a simple and common way to get some exercise, and if we're out and about in New York City, it's easy to think that we can walk off whatever fun New York foods we've consumed along the strolls - the hot dogs, the cupcakes, the cafe lattes, the precious fusion fried chickens, the three-course lunches, the gelato on a stick, the three sauvignon blancs, etc. We may be correct about the benefits of walking, but we would be completely delusional to think that we can easily walk off all of our favorite New York foods and drinks. Don't forget the drinks.

New Yorkers themselves became more aware of the caloric value of favorite foods starting back in 2007 when chain restaurants were required to post calories. It came as something of a shock to see how many calories a so-called low-fat blueberry muffin contained. And I think New Yorkers are increasingly aware, like others, of the health benefits of walking. Walking is often cited as a solution for a variety of issues - as a healthy alternative to smoking (pertinent as many city dwellers had to give up the habit when it became too expensive), as a way to beat stress, and as a low-impact form of exercise. On the other hand, strolling, the kind often practiced on this website, is rather distinct from walking as exercise. Strolling is a slow balletic gesture of putting one foot in front of another. It's hardly an effort. In the golden age of the flâneur in the nineteenth century, taking a turtle for a walk down a Paris street helped set the pace.

To enjoy the health benefits of walking, it's necessary to pick up the pace, to walk with some deliberation, as if rushing to meet a person for an appointment or to catch the next train. A person weighing 150 pounds walking a moderate pace of 2.5 mph on a flat urban sidewalk burns approximately 204 calories an hour. Smaller people tend to burn less calories, and big people burn more. Other factors must be considered such as age, shape, overall body composition, etc., but we can use calculators to get a rough idea. A caramel frappuccino with skim milk from the coffee place has about 167 calories in it, so for a trim person of 125 pounds, it would take nearly an hour to walk that off.

As cooler weather and hearty appetites return for the fall and winter, it's time to get a grip on food, walking, and calories. Brace yourselves. As Margo Channing says in All About Eve (1950), "It's going to be a bumpy night!"

New York Food, Calories, and Distance Between New York Sites to Walk It Off

Using www.gmap-pedometer.com, I've calculated the necessary distance to walk off various New York favorite foods by connecting a walk between two New York sites or landmarks. 

• slice of good New York pizza (350 cal) = Morgan Library & Museum (Madison Ave. & 36th Street) to Cooper-Hewitt Museum (5th Ave. and E. 91st St.)

• cafe latte grande (260 cal) =  Walk once around the perimeter of Governors Island (2.1 miles)

• bagel (320 cal) = Sheridan Square (Village) to Lincoln Center
• Little cheeseburger (550 cal) = Meatpacking District (near W. 13th St.) to Cathedral of St. John the Divine (W. 112th St.)

• 1 famous frankfurter (297 cal) = St. Patrick's Cathedral to Museum of the City of New York

• 1/2 cup gelato (210 cal) = Washington Square Arch (Village) to New York Public Library (42nd St.)

• chocolate croissant (340 cal) =  Essex Street Market (Lower East Side) to Sutton Place (East Side, near E. 55th St.)

• old fashioned cake donut (280 cal) = City Hall, over the Brooklyn Bridge, to Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn

• pad thai (380 cal) = The Pond in Central Park (near 59th and 5th) to Marcus Garvey Park (Harlem)

• black and white cookie (430 cal) = Battery Park to the Empire State Building (34th St.)

• 1 slice standard NY cheesecake (580 cal) = Battery Park to the Plaza Hotel (59th and 5th Ave.)

• pastrami sandwich (1010 cal) = Battery Park to Audubon Terrace. In other words, the lower tip of Manhattan to W. 155th Street.

• New York bakery cupcake (389 cal) = Brooklyn Bridge Park to the Brooklyn Public Library.

The good news is that walking off a big apple is relatively easy. An apple that's about 3 1/4 in diameter has about 116 calories. A brisk walk of 3.5 mph should take care of that apple in about 30 minutes. We can also reach inner peace with the realization that while it may not be possible to walk off the whole red velvet cupcake, we can at least try to walk off some of it.

Image by Walking Off the Big Apple.

1 comment:

Tinky said...

How did you know I was just thinking it was time to get serious about those calories? Now, if you could only lay out walks for me in rural Hawley, Massachusetts, I'd be all set!

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