As mentioned in the first part of my summary of the Surgeon General’s new call to demand more walkable communities, an alarming number of people are inactive. (That is, performing no more than 10 minutes of physical activity per day.)
So, why is walking, specifically, being promoted?
Walking is one of the first accomplishments in our life. Unless a person experiences a physical impairment, such as needing a wheelchair, all it takes is two legs and a little balance. It doesn’t take any special talents, equipment or money. It’s like giving yourself a free gift everyday you go for a walk. You didn’t spend any money and your body maintains its good health. You can also make walking more interesting by challenging yourself to increase duration, intensity or elevation changes (fancy term for hills).
No matter your age, ethnicity or gender, across the board, 60%+ people in these demographics all walked at least 10 minutes in the last week. The biggest difference in the gap in the number of people walking was 72% of college-degreed people walked compared to under 52% for people without a high school degree.
Walking is “multi-purpose”. You can walk to work, to get the mail or to school. It is the best way to easily incorporate physical into your daily life.
The other benefits listed as improving community safety, especially those that are walkable. Those communities have pedestrian crossings, traffic signals and tends to have lower speed limits. Walking in your community also forces you to get to know your neighbors. No one ever suffered from staying in contact with what’s going on in the neighborhood. These relationships can create an interdependent neighborhood, and one that looks out for each other.
Another benefit is keeping the air cleaner by skipping that 2 minute drive to the grocery store. Cars have made Americans so lazy, that we forgot what it was like generations ago when people walked to the pharmacy, or made a friend walking to school. Walking can even boost the local economy according to the Surgeon General. Walkable communities are generally more attractive because of the pedestrian-friendly streets, so businesses are more apt to locate themselves within those communities.
Are you sold yet on creating a more walkable life? Next time, I will summarize why people don’t walk more. Stay tuned!