If the government’s recommendation of at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week sounds daunting to you, join the club. Fewer than half of Americans meet the government’s physical activity goal, and about one-third report getting no exercise at all. But new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that may be changing. In a new report, the CDC finds that more and more Americans are taking up the simple act of walking for exercise, and that those who get out there and walk are about three times more likely to meet physical activity requirements. The report looked at data from the 2005 and 2010 National Health Interview Surveys (NHIS), which included nearly 50,000 adults in total. The data showed that in 2010, 62% of adults reported walking for at least 10 minutes at least once the past week, up from 56% in 2005. Increases in walking were seen among nearly all subgroups of participants surveyed, regardless of age, gender, weight, race, geography or overall health. Even among adults who needed walking assistance, 1 in 4 reported walking. “Fifteen million more Americans were walking in 2010 compared to 2005,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC director, in a conference call, emphasizing the remarkable benefits of a walk. “There really is no single drug that can do anything like what regular physical activity does and that’s why [walking] really is a wonder drug. It makes you healthier and happier. Even if you don’t lose any weight, getting regular exercise will decrease your risk of getting sick, getting diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and many other conditions.”
Petulia Pugliares lives on a busy residential intersection in Wethersfield, Conn., south of Hartford. Her home sits smack between two elementary schools and a high school. That doesn’t seem to faze the drivers though. “Cars go by way too fast, especially during the morning and evening commute,” says Pugliares, who has witnessed numerous accidents, and was even struck by a car herself as she walked the neighborhood.
Frustrated, she came up with a simple campaign to try to get drivers to slow down. Her message, printed on bright, red lawn and street signs reads ”Drive Like Your Kids Live Here.”
Pugliares’ words seem to work. “It has that hit-home effect. It really resonates and makes them slow down,” she told ABC News.
New pedestrian crossings, bike lanes and other amenities geared towards muscle-powered transportation could sprout up around Atlanta if a 1 percent sales tax passes on July 31. Atlanta could reap an estimated $94 million in discretionary funding over the next decade for local transportation projects if voters approve. On the city’s wish list: improving bike and pedestrian safety around Chastain and Grant parks, building a multi-use path near the Silver Comet Trail and creating bike lanes along portions of Howell Mill Road.
The Dalai Lama
OK, maybe it’s not a full fledged pitch for the value of walking, but the Dalai Lama is at least offering one more reason why all of us could get a lot from a walk.
PS: I’m a little hesitant of the idea of meditating while driving — in the traffic we now have in most cities — but it’s certainly a better idea than texting.
This website is being created at the urging of my wife, Chrys, largely to honor a good friend who died this week: Ron Taylor, who is pictured above in a photo Chrys took.
Ron was a greatly beloved journalist in Atlanta. He was a wonderful writer and a good-hearted soul with a great laugh. But, as someone else said this week, writing, reporting and maybe even laughing were his day jobs. In his later years, he totally enjoyed what he called “roving,” walking and rambling often for long distances through the urban neighborhoods near his home.
If you read The Joy of Roving, you’ll hear some more about Ron. You’ll also hear about the joy of roving, walking, rambling, wandering, traveling and relishing simple joys whether in your own neighborhood or traveling much farther afield.