A Boring Post About Pedestrian Stuff

Walking is easy. Easier, in fact, than standing on your head. As long as the same leg isn’t used twice in succession, nothing much can go wrong. ~ Unknown Author

Every once in a while I feel the need to harken back to my urban pedestrian blog roots and talk about walking. It’s been so cool to hear about all the people in Ottawa who’ve discovered the joys of walking over the last couple of months. People who say they’re enjoying it so much that they’ll keeping walking to and from work even when the buses decide to run again.

When our children take their first steps everyone is so excited. Hands are clapped; squeals of joy are squealed; home movies are made; photos are taken; the momentous occasion is discussed with all and sundry.

After that walking becomes a bore. It takes too much time. It hurts. It’s tiring.  The car’s right there in the driveway…

Perhaps we’ve forgotten how truly miraculous walking is. The whole point of the genus homo becoming erectus was the standing up and walking part.

Dangling right there at the end of your buttocks is the key to long life, good health and well-being.  Your legs. They move, they bend.  They’re capable of supporting your entire torso and carrying it, one step at a time, around the globe.

Are you carrying too much weight? Feeling logy and sluggish? Depressed? Blood pressure higher than your IQ?  Tired of the round of colds and flu every winter?

Well,  a bit of walking outdoors each day will work wonders. You don’t need radical diets. You don’t need to run or sweat it out in a gym or buy a bunch of overpriced equipment – just some sensible shoes and clothes suited to the weather.

For added fun, get a pedometer and build up to the 10,000 Steps-a-Day thing for optimum benefits. Add some “huff and puff.”  For some that means just getting out of a chair and moving, for others it means picking up the pace a bit.  Incorporate it into your day.  Park further away from work and walk 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes after work and maybe another 10 at lunch or after supper.

 Regular walking can:

  • Improve fitness level
  • Boost the immune system (non-walkers have 3 x the risk of catching colds)
  • Help control weight
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Reduce blood cholesterol
  • Reduce abdominal fat and increase in metabolism[1]
  • Help manage and reduce risk of diabetes
  • Prevention of erectile dysfunction[2]
  • Reduced risk of dementia[3]
  • Protect against osteoarthritis and hip fracture
  • Help develop and maintain muscle strength
  • Reduce insomnia
  • Increase aerobic capacity
  • Protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease
  • Relieve symptoms of stress and depression[4]
  • Provide a higher degree of autonomy later in life.
  • Increase longevity[5]

For more information and/or to get start, try The ACTIVE2010 Pedometer Challenge.

And for those of you who are regular walkers or have just discovered the benefits of walking, this would be an excellent time for testimonials.

[1] http://ajpendo.physiology.org/cgi/content/abstract/261/2/E159

 [2] Effect of Lifestyle Changes on Erectile Dysfunction in Obese Men

[3] Physical Activity, Including Walking, and Cognitive Function in Older Women

[4] Walking and Stress

[5] Walking and Exercise Add Healthy Years to Life


24 responses to “A Boring Post About Pedestrian Stuff

  1. I see you’ve fallen for the oldest myth in the world. The panacea.
    It can be proven by any manufacturer of drugs, medical equipment, special diet foods, or fitness equipment that nothing can have this many good effects unless it costs lots of money.
    In fact your health is inversely proportional to how much money you spend.
    Now take a cab or get a ride to the nearest gym and get on the 3000/5000 dollar treadmill. Pay a personal trainer and buy some tasty prepared energy bars or gels and some vitamin water.
    Only in this way can you be sure to increase our own health and that of the economy at the same time.

  2. I used to walk a lot. Then for some reason I started walking less and less.

    Now that I have had the cold from hell and am still fighting its aftereffects a month later, I’m beginning to think I really need to get my butt in gear.

  3. Walking is also like meditation for me. I walk to the gym (20 minutes) and back again and feel calm the whole way, except when I cross the street at the pedestrian crosswalk and watch cars barrel through on the red. I have started watching for the red and for cars who are obviously not going to stop and I have started leaping into the street to scare the crap out of them. It’s not much good for meditation but it sure can be exhilarating.

  4. Thanx for the post, read it, got up from my work desk, walked around our 200+ acre campus and feel 110%.

    was freezing yesterday, supposed to be freezing tomorrow and snowy, but today is sunny and a moderate 49 F (feels like 55 or more because the sun is reflecting off old snow)

    thanks for the motivation.

  5. Bandobras – No, no. You’ve been fed a bill of goods. Really. Sometimes the simplest things are still the best. Hard to believe, I know.

    Jazz – Apropos to nothing at all, I just read that walking is also good for alleviating some of the symptoms of menopause. Not that this has anything to do with any of us, of course, but something to keep in mind for way in the future when we start heading toward middle age-ishness.

    Lebowski – I also said “homo”

    Helen – Perfect timing! Do you feel better than you have in weeks?

    Julia – I feel the same way. I was in one of these women’s group thingies once upon a time and they insisted on holding meditation sessions weekly which just drove me bonkers. I tried to explain that I feel much more at one with myself and clear-headed and open when I’m out walking than when I’m trying to sit very still on a fluffy cushion sucking in incense. You might want to stop leaping in front of speeding vehicles, though. Much better to just step off the curb and scream like you’ve been hit just as they go by. That’ll scare everyone.

    Reeky – Hey! That’s great. I hope you’ll do this every day! And don’t let the freezing stop you from going outside. Wear a few layers of clothing, a good hat, and good boots/shoes and it can be very exhilarating. The only time it sort of stops being fun is if it’s less than minus 20 and very windy and/or blizzardy. Then I usually skip a day.

  6. I have just come back from a lovely 40 minute walk in the SUNSHINE and I feel better already.

    Actually, those weeks when I was suffering with a cold, I made the effort to get outside every day for a walk and it helped immensely. Once I got better, I became lazy again. The sun drew me out yesterday and today.

  7. More like this!

    Your (old) blog changed my life.

    Well, not really.

    But I did coincidentally start reading your blog right about the same time I started walking 3+ miles/day. I remember one particular post on your old blog about how walking is superior to bicycling (hmm . . . where can I find a copy of that old post?) and I thought “Finally; someone else gets it! And articulates it much better than me!”

  8. I go for a walk almost every day with my boy ‘Toby’ on a wooded trail in near Pugwash, Nova Scotia. I’m not much into the health benefits(though they may come) but I just like the time on the trail and the chance to spend it with him. Health benefits are not my first thought but I enjoy the walk and the ever changing scene. Being alone with my thoughts and enjoying the [;ace are all I really care about. If it should also be healthy…cool!

  9. Violetsky – Keep walking! I know when you have a cold, the last thing you want to do is bundle up and walk around in the middle of winter, but it really does help to make the cold go away faster. And if you walk when you don’t have a cold, you reduce your chances of getting one.

    Bandobras – Just don’t wear spandex, please.

    Dave – I’m going to ignore the “not really” part and pretend that I changed your life. I believe I still have that post in my vault somewhere. I can email it to you if you really want it??

    TLJ – Well, of course, I don’t walk because I’m thinking I may be warding off diabetes either. I walk because I feel good and happy and meditative when I’m walking and when I don’t walk I feel grumpy and restless and out of sorts. Thanks for the testimonial. Maybe it will help to inspire others!

  10. When I lived downtown I walked everywhere. Did all my shopping on foot. Walked up and down the canal just because. And I loved it. Now, I live sort of in suburbia and walking has ceased to happen. I am trying to convince the Lion to do our shopping on foot. Seriously, the grocery store is just around the corner! It’s shameful. I promised to get him a pimped out granny cart! We’ll see how that works in the Spring.

  11. This is a good reminder. I’m always sort of mystified when I see people at the gym circling over and over just to get a parking spot right near the door. What the . . .??

  12. I love walking. I don’t own a car, so I walk everywhere. Last summer I managed to mess up my leg somehow, and I couldn’t walk for a couple of months. I was sort of concerned, but then it got better and now that spring is coming, I can start to walk everywhere again. My sneakers are my car. 🙂

  13. I’m another confirmed walker. DD and I started a serious walking program in January 2006 (and a serious Weight Watchers program, too) and we both lost 25 lbs by June! We don’t always walk together, but when we do, we have incredible conversations (that mother-daughter bonding thing, I guess). We also walk a lot faster than most people do, probably because we are so used to it now. When I don’t walk (like during all that damn snow), I miss it so much and end up vacuuming or something stupid like that to get my steps in. 🙂

  14. Walking? What’s THAT?? I live in L.A. We don’t *do* that here. Seriously: Can someone give me a ride to my car? It’s parked around the corner….

  15. Bandobras – Alrighty then…carry on

    UP – Why wait? Start walking now –every day and watch yourself get fit and trim it’ll seem like you’re not even trying and Wednesday Weigh-in will make their eyes pop.

    Kimberly – I really believe that exercise isn’t truly effective unless it’s part of your every day life. Being a sloth 23 hours a day and working out ofr one? I can’t see how that could benefit the whole you. Walking is so easy and so enjoyable.

    Jo – My shoes are my car, too. Which is why I don’t mind spending some serious money on good shoes. Number one criteria – I have to be able to walk in them for miles and be comfortable. I don’t even own heels. Don’t you walk in the winter, too? (Or what we laughingly refer to as winter on the west coast…okay, okay, you had some snow this year)

    Laura – Yay!! Eliptical, eschmiptical. Yoga is great though. Don’t give that up if you love it. But ya – go outdoors!!

    Pinklea – You can still walk in the snow. This is the big mistake people make in the winter. They don’t walk outdoors – just when you need it most to ward off all those viruses. And that’s why people get so sick in the winter. I drag my daughter out for walks all the time too. We used to just walk everywhere doing errands and stuff together, but now that she’s older she’s always off doing her own thing…which hasn’t included a lot of walking lately, so I now make a point to take her along whether she likes it or not. She’s always happy she went in the end, though.

    Lesley – It’s okay for LA people. They’re naturally beautiful and healthy. They don’t need to worry about silly stuff like this. I should have made a note at the top of this post” “Lesley is exempt – do not read”

    Geewits – An excellent start! But personally, I think showcasing wicker baskets is a great use for a treadmill. I only use mine when it’s really, really cold and nasty out. Or, I guess if I were you I’d use it when the temperatures got over 90.