Not so long ago, this is the way we travelled, and much of the world still does. In the United States, we tend to build environments that include our homes, workplaces, and social centers in driveable areas. I have to admit I don’t know anyone who actually walks to the grocery store.
Walkable neighborhoods have much lower rates of traffic fatalities — for both pedestrians and motorists — compared with driving -oriented areas.
Interesting that low-income families are more reliant on walking for essential journeys than the middle class, and yet low-cost housing is often located in the most car-dependent places.
Sadly, the creation of a truly walkable community where most people walk for short journeys involves a cultural change.
One quarter of all trips in the U.S. are 1 mile or less, and yet most of these trips are taken by car. Increasing walking reduces traffic congestion and the cost of road maintenance.
It’s amazing that our bodies are engineered to move this way and it’s becoming all too clear that a sedentary lifestyle is a disease in and of itself. Moving matters, and walking can be the absolute best low-impact way to living a more active, healthy, and connected life.
Most of us are familiar with the myriad of benefits of walking. First, the physical benefits — improving balance, strengthening bones, reducing risk of heart disease and stroke, preventing type II diabetes, and much more. How about the mental health benefits of walking? Did you know that walking boosts brain power, drives creativity, helps control addiction, improves self-confidence, and reduces stress?
And what of the emotional benefits? Walking helps make space, clear the air, and moderate our worst moods — allowing us to breathe again. Walking provides many spiritual benefits as well. We engage with the unknown, experience chance encounters with birds, take steps of silence in prayer or thought, steal an hour for a walk through a garden, and invest in the presence of things we cannot comprehend.
Fewer than 50% of Americans meet the minimum guidelines for moderate physical activity — walking is the easiest and most affordable way to correct this problem.