How Far Do I Have To Walk?

by DavalosMcCormack on March 29, 2010

Recently I was talking with some colleagues at work about a new hospital we are planning to build. As always in San Francisco one of the first questions that came up was about parking. It’s a pain in the gluteous to find parking anywhere in the City so of course everyone wants to know if there is parking available, how far away and how much it will cost. no-parking

When I told people there was plenty of parking within three blocks of the new hospital there were two very different reactions. Some said ‘three blocks, great!”, others said “three blocks, why so far away!”

Same distance, widely different reactions.

How Far Is Too Far

Why is it that some people consider any distance further than one block to be too far away. You can see them in the parking lots of supermarkets and shopping malls, circling endlessly close to the entrance because they don’t want to have to walk far from their car to the front door. You see them in neighborhoods driving at 7mph down the street, looking for a parking space, usually oblivious to the growing line of cars stuck behind them. Then when they do find a space, even if it’s barely big enough to fit their car in, they’ll use the braille method of parking – bumping back and forth against the car in front and the one behind – until they’re squeezed in.

As a species we evolved to walk.  1-a-walking-t10049Just look at the way our bodies are built, walking is a natural part of our evolution. If you think about it our ancestors walked out of Olduvai gorge in Ethiopia and slowly made their way to every corner of the globe. Mostly on foot. So, walking should be the most natural thing in the world for us. But somehow, along the way, we’ve lost sight of that.

We have a wonderful friend, Emma, who is in her mid-80’s but is spry and lively and trim and energetic. Emma walks everywhere. At a time when many of her friends are spending growing amounts of time sitting in front of the TV, Emma is out strolling around, visiting people, being active, having a great time.

Emma says walking is just her way of getting from here to there. But she also knows that if she didn’t walk so much she wouldn’t be in such great shape. For her, walking is how she retains the energy to do the things she loves to do. And she’s right. Walking is probably the simplest form of exercise you can have and one of the best. It helps:

  • Boost HDL or good cholesterol and lower LDL or bad cholesterol
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Helps build strong bones
  • Reduce or manage your risk of diabetes
  • Improve your mood
  • Stay fit and active

You don’t need any fancy equipment to walk – though stores are certainly trying to persuade you that you need special “walking” shoes and belts or fanny packs to hold the water you’ll need to drink along the way – and you don’t need any lessons. You simply have to stand up and move.

Of course the one thing that is essential to walking is attitude. Some people hate the idea of walking any further than is absolutely necessary; and even then they’re not very keen on that. While others don’t mind walking a few miles if need be. walking sign

It’s that difference in attitude that means some people spend their days doing as little as possible, sitting around, waiting for life to come to them, while some people like Emma are out enjoying every day.

I know which approach I think is a lot more fun.

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