Earlier this month, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a Call to Action for our nation to “Step It Up”. This Call is designed to promote walking and walkable communities and underscores the importance of physical activity for people of all ages and abilities. It encourages us to walk more, but it also calls on local leaders to design communities and infrastructure to better support walking and walkability.
Jill Hamilton Buss, Executive Director of Healthy Central Florida, shared her perspectives with Inspiring Health:
Did you know? In addition to increasing property values and reducing crime (more “eyes on the streets”), walkable communities offer residents significant health benefits too. Here are just a few benefits of walking:
- Reduces stress
- Strengthens muscles and bones
- Improves cardiovascular fitness
- Improves mental health
- Helps build a sense of community
You may wonder, how does walking build community? When you’re walking your dog, to school or through a park, you’re more likely to wave to neighbors or stop and visit, which is impossible when whizzing by at 45 miles per hour in a car. Walking is friendly by design.
And very importantly, for more than half of our population who are overweight or obese, walking can help people lose or control weight. It’s also one of the best health strategies for those with diabetes – or most chronic diseases.
But if there are no sidewalks, crosswalks, shade trees or accessible trails, it’s difficult for kids to walk to school and even for many adults to walk comfortably to a park, the farmer’s market, the SunRail station, a transit stop, or to work.
Community leaders are working together to improve community walkability by doing things like adding sidewalks and making intersections and crosswalks more visible and safer.
You can get healthy and support these healthy community changes by letting your feet do the talking. It’s almost fall – almost WALKTOBER – so take a walk! Join us for the upcoming “Sole Challenge” a fun community walk (healthycf.org). Or, join our 90-day fun walking program –the Walk90 Challenge. All programs are free and offer great prizes and incentives to get out and walk. Join us!