We all marvel at the beauty of walking when a toddler takes her first steps. We applaud her glee at her own achievement in mastering this fundamental skill. But in our daily lives, many of us work harder to avoid those steps than a toddler does to take them! We get annoyed if we have to park our cars a block away from our destination. We complain as we wait for an elevator to bring us up two or three floors. And then we moan that we can’t fit regular exercise into our busy lives. If only we could figure out how to make more time…
Hmmm. What about walking as the way to get two things done at once? Research shows that walking 30 to 60 minutes most days benefits a person’s overall health, even they break their walks up into ten-minute intervals. Benefits include reducing stress, helping you to sleep better, controlling weight, toning muscles, and increasing energy. Walking can also help to prevent or control a number of chronic medical conditions including diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, depression, breast cancer, colon cancer and osteoporosis.
Having a walking buddy can be an added motivation in sticking with a regular schedule. Many people ask a neighbor, family member or work colleague to join them. Or they join a walking group through NeighborWalk, a program of Boston Steps at the Boston Public Health Commission. Participating walkers receive a pedometer (step counter), t-shirt, and water bottle. For safety, NeighborWalk also supplies lanyards with safety whistles.
For anyone who wants more inspiration to recapture a toddler’s joy in walking, Boston Steps will be holding its fourth annual NeighborWalk Celebration at Jamaica Pond on Sat. June 9, 8:30-11:30 am. There will be musicians around the Pond to serenade walkers with steel drums, world music, and more. Kid-friendly activities include face painting and balloon hats. Fitness demonstrations and healthy snacks will give you ideas for additional steps to health.
The event is free and open to the public. The Boston Public Health Commission is hoping to top last year’s record participation of more than 400 walkers who took the Boston Steps to Health Challenge Walk. Anyone who takes a team of 20 walkers will get a gift certificate and be able to enter their name to win an iPod! Visit www.bphc.org/neighborwalk or call 534-5690 for more information about the celebration, about walking opportunities, or to request a pedometer and walking kit.
The writer is on the staff of the Boston Public Health Commission.