Poll after poll show health care and related health expenses are among the top concerns of Americans. One of the simplest methods of keeping healthy is to engage in physical activity, and one of the easiest ways to do that is by walking. Toward that end — and a host of associated benefits, both physical and fiscal — many cities are striving to make their downtowns more walkable.
Walking produces a range of health benefits. Walking can lower blood pressure and combat the progress of diabetes, two major health concerns in this country and this region. According to the American Heart Association, adults should be walking 150 minutes a week to fully receive the health benefits from such a physical activity. That’s only a half hour each day, which is an easy goal to accomplish, provided that people have access to a safe and attractive walking environment.
A good 30-minute walk can also produce emotional and mental benefits, too. Walks are great for clearing cobwebs from the brain, fostering inspiration, reducing stress and bestowing a general sense of well being.
Walking is great for business, as well. Walkers on the paths and sidewalks in revitalized downtown areas get to enjoy the aromas wafting from restaurants, browse the windows of art galleries and antique shops, admire gardens and landscaping, study vintage architecture, and much more. Later, when walkers are looking for a place to have a good meal, buy a unique gift or secure a needed service, they are almost certain to consider some of the places they pass by during their walks.
The Heart Association points out that walking can easily be paired with other activities:
— Taking the dog out for a stroll through the neighborhood.
— Spending quality time with the family at the park.
— Parking farther from your workplace and using the stairs instead of the elevator.
— Window shopping at a mall or downtown shopping districts.
— De-stressing after a hectic work day.
Walking does a body good. Walking also does a community good. Individuals and communities should join hands and walk together.