Walking is good for us? Who knew?

Walking

Isn’t it a no-brainer that something as simple as walking is good for us? Apparently common sense doesn’t prevail according to the American Public Health Association’s statistics:

  • Obesity has nearly tripled among kids and teens over the past 30 years
  • One in three U.S. children between the ages of 2-19 is overweight or obese
  • In 1980, the obesity rate for adults was 15 percent; today, that rate has more-than doubled to 35 percent!

Carrying extra pounds is more harmful than looking a little chubby. Obesity contributes to heart disease, diabetes, joint problems, difficulty sleeping (sleep apnea), cancer, and negative psychosocial effects. This amounts to increased health care costs for individuals as well as our nation. New studies and a growing movement of health advocates are touting walking as a simple solution to improving not only our individual wellness, but overcoming many of society’s troubles such as lowering health care costs, improving academic performance, strengthening local economies, improving neighborhoods, and lowering crime rates.

Our gluteus maximus is a uniquely human evolutionary gift. These incredibly large muscles enable us to remain upright to walk and run for prolonged periods of time. But how we use ours most of the time is slowly killing us! The majority of our daily routine involves hours spent sitting: eating, watching TV, playing with one of our multiple mini-screen gadgets, planted in front of a computer in the office, or sitting behind a steering wheel on our way to or from work. Complicating this issue is the design of our suburban and rural communities and how we interact or can’t interact with them. People in Thurston County live a lifestyle that is car-dependent (77 percent drive alone to work). We don’t have the infrastructure or we live too far from services to walk to work, grocery stores, schools, or parks.

ThurstonHereToThere.org was designed to help inform people in Thurston County about the variety of transportation choices that are available. People who walk, bike, or use transit to get around their community are incorporating physical activity into their daily routine. Thurston Regional Planning Council’s planning efforts like Sustainable Thurston have identified long-term actions to make our communities healthier by increasing access to local fresh foods, improving infrastructure to support safe walking and bicycling, and better designing our communities to enable people to meet many of their daily needs by driving less and walking more.

Thurston Here to There believes that it’s important to regularly educate and occasionally remind our readers about the benefits of exercise. Two new articles from the American Heart Association and Yes! magazine highlight the significant benefits that walking offers all of us. We trust you will find these articles informative, motivating and inspiring to get up and get moving.

Exercising more, sitting less helps men prevent heart failure
“Be more active and sit less. That’s the message here.”

Sitting Is the New Smoking: Why Walking Is the “Secret Sauce” for Better Health and Happier Communities
“Increased levels of walking and physical activity can bring other social benefits too”.  Lowering health care costs, helping to create more vital communities, improving school performance, and building a stronger, healthier work force are just a few of these benefits.