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To download the foreword to American Idle, click here. (PDF Format)
To view the schedule of American Idle Book Readings by author Mary Collins, click here.
To view interviews with American Idle Author Mary Collins, click here.

STERLING, VA (May 2009)–– For 99 percent of our history, humans have lived as a species on the move, but modern life has stopped us in our tracks. AMERICAN IDLE: A Journey Through Our Sedentary Culture offers the first comprehensive look at the social, cultural, moral, and physical consequences of living in a sedentary culture that has immobilized us as effectively as a shattered body part.

As author Mary Collins recovers from a devastating bicycle accident, she begins a journey to find out more about America’s wounded national body. She discovers:

  • Why humans are meant to move.
  • What social changes led us to our current state.
  • Why past efforts have been so ineffective, and why will power isn’t the problem.
  • How our impaired physical selves impact our social lives and moral judgment

In her pursuit, Collins:

  • Visits the Olympic Center, factory floors, archeological sites, city planners, health experts, and even the National Zoo.
  • Explores the hazards of a society centered on desk jobs. (continued on next page)
  • Looks into why organized sports have made kids less fit and advocates for more free play.
  • Uncovers remarkable new research about how physical activity impacts the adult brain.
  • Talks with experts about the growing imbalance between our overactive minds and our underused bodies.
  • Offers advice on how to integrate movement into the natural flow of our daily lives again.

In sum, AMERICAN IDLE offers readers a road map back to physical grace.

“The best way to read American Idle is to let the stories—Mary’s story, the story of our cultural and physical de-evolution into a sedentary state, and the stories of all the people she interviewed—crawl in. But understand there is a cautionary tale here. As human beings, our future, our ability to remain vibrant healthy beings, depends on a steady diet of activity.”
—Sharon Z. Roerty
Executive Director, National Center for Bicycling & Walking
From the Foreword to American Idle

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Mary Collins is the award-winning author of The Essential Daughter: Changing Expectations for Girls at Home (Praeger), National Public Radio (Seven Locks Press), and Airborne: A Photobiography of Wilbur and Orville Wright (National Geographic Books). She has received numerous awards for her work, both as a professor and a writer, including the “Best Essay of the Year Award” from the American Society of Journalist and Authors (ASJA) and the “Best Young Adult Book Award” from ASJA as well. In addition, Ms. Collins has written many articles and books for a variety of clients, including Smithsonian Magazine, the New York Times, National Geographic Books, the Discovery Channel, the Boston Globe, Time-Life Books, McGraw-Hill, Pearson Publishing, and others.

Now a professor of creative writing at Central Connecticut State University, Ms. Collins was previously an award-winning faculty member at Johns Hopkins University’s graduate writing program in Washington, D.C. She remains actively involved in the professional writing community, is a sought-after panelist and speaker.

For further information, review copies, and author interviews, contact Kathleen Hughes, 703-661-1511 or

Friends of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking can pre-order, American Idle and receive a 35% discount from the cover price. Go to the Capital Books website ( and go to Shopping Cart then type the code, IDL909, where it says "to use a special offer" (at the top) and then click on update cart. Again the code is: IDL909. To learn more about the book and its author, go to