April 6, 2022 is National Walking Day. With spring in the air, why not set aside 20 or 30 minutes today for a nice walk? It’s a great way to incorporate some exercise, breathe in fresh air, and take a break from your daily life.
Benefits of Walking
Walking is great for the body. It’s a full-body activity, so it engages a lot of different muscles. It gets the blood flowing, which is great for circulation. Even though it is a light form of exercise, it still builds muscles and strengthens your bones. Studies have even shown that walking can improve your mood, sleep, memory, and immune system.
Walking is also good for mental health. Sometimes taking a step away from a stressful moment and taking a walk is all it takes to reset your mind. Taking a walk gives you new sights to look at, and is a perfect break from work or household duties.
How to Celebrate
There are many ways you can work more walking into your life today, or any day! Here are some ideas:
- Take a family walk after dinner
- Meet up with some friends for a hike
- Take your dog walking in a new area
- Walk to a nearby store or coffee shop that you’d normally drive to
- Drive to your downtown area and explore on foot
- Listen to a podcast or audio book while walking
- Go orienteering
- Sign up for a walking tour or food tour of your city
Tips for Walking Safely
While taking a walk may not initially sound like a dangerous activity, there is always a risk when you’re around motor vehicles. The ideal place to walk would be in a quiet neighborhood or on a designated trail, but sometimes the closest path involves walking along or crossing a busy street.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reminds pedestrians that it’s important to stay on sidewalks whenever possible. Here are some additional safety tips to avoid pedestrian accidents.
Pedestrian Safety Tips
- Only cross the street at designated pedestrian areas. Remember to look both ways before crossing, since cars don’t always stop.
- If walking at night, wear something reflective.
- If listening to headphones, press pause when crossing the street. That way you can hear any oncoming traffic.
- Avoid taking walks under the influence of alcohol or drugs, since these lower your awareness and reaction time.
- Don’t text or browse your phone while walking – stay alert of your surroundings.
Driver Safety Tips
- Keep an eye out for pedestrian crosswalks; some have a light that will flash when a pedestrian is waiting to cross.
- Always yield to pedestrians, because they have the right of way. Remember that you have a car to protect your body in the case of an accident, and they don’t.
- Reduce distractions. Any distraction while driving, even a minor one, can take your eyes off the road. A split second is all it takes for a child to run out in the road.
Unfortunately, the cities that are the most walkable are also the most dangerous for pedestrians. Keep this in mind when taking a walk in your area, but also remember how many benefits there are from walking. So choose a safe neighborhood or path and get walking!