Top 5 Reasons to Walk

Sure, cars are efficient and public transit’s green. But nothing beats walking when it comes to getting around in a healthy, eco-conscious way.

People walking

We’ve heard from Esurance bloggers touting the value of driving and taking public transportation. But how about the method of locomotion so ingenious Mother Nature built it into us?

Being sticklers for detail, here are our top 5 reasons to walk. Read up, and you might be inspired to leave the car keys on the nightstand, the bike in the rack, and the bus fare at home.

1. Walking is an (easy and) excellent way to exercise

Unless you’ve been vacationing on Mars for the past several decades, you’ve heard all about the health benefits of hoofing it. But in case you’re not yet convinced, let’s review these great reasons to walk.

First, it’s easy. Your body intrinsically knows how to do it, so it takes no practice. Plus it’s low-impact — meaning it doesn’t unduly stress your joints and muscles, reducing the possibility of injury. Finally, it’s pretty safe … as long as you don’t stroll along the highway.

And it’s good for you! The Mayo Clinic states that walking can help you:

  • Lower your “bad” cholesterol (or low-density lipoprotein [LDL] cholesterol)
  • Raise your “good” cholesterol (or high-density lipoprotein [HDL] cholesterol)
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes or help manage it
  • Keep your weight down
  • Lift your mood
  • Stay fit as a fiddle

Oh, and if you’re a smoker, walking can help you quit smoking.

2. Walking relieves stress

This may be one of the best reasons to walk. According to a study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, those who walk regularly (in conjunction with other easy to moderately difficult exercises) have lower stress levels than both layabouts and hardcore exercisers. And the magazine Prevention claims that a “brisk” 20- to 30-minute walk can have the same calming effect as a mild tranquilizer(!).

But beyond the quantifiable benefits, walking also gives you a great chance to think about your life, put your problems in perspective, and get up close and personal with your environment, whether that’s in the lush beauty of nature or the more human marvel of the urban. And re-centering is an undeniably good thing.

3. Walking’s the greenest way to get around

While people often tout the environmental benefits of public transportation, no mode of locomotion beats walking for eco-consciousness. Granted, public transit saves about 1.4 billion gallons of gas annually, which translates into about 14 million tons of CO2. But even busses and many commuter trains emit greenhouse gases. And biking, which comes a close second, requires the use of petroleum to manufacture the tires, grips, cable housings, and even some pedals and saddles.

And while your body may emit the occasional gas, it’s not the sort that’s doing (much) harm to the atmosphere.

4. Walking can help you get to know your neighborhood

Many of us feel like the modern lifestyle — with its glut of easily accessible info, constant communication, breakneck speed, and “social networks” — has left us all a bit more alienated than we’d like. Sometimes, we don’t even know our neighbors or local businesses. Just the other day, in fact, I decided to go for a walk and discovered — after nearly a year in my current neighborhood — a long, creek-side park just a block from my front door!

Driving leaves you isolated in a speeding metal box. And public transportation seems to have an unwritten rule that people don’t interact unless they know each other. But a simple stroll down the street brings you face-to-face with neighbors and local business owners, affording you a chance to offer the kind smile and “Hello” that could be the start of a great friendship.

5. Walking can help you discover local history

Going a bit deeper than discovering new people, places, and things to do, walking can also help you experience the rich history all around us. After all, the bronze plaques that often share this knowledge with the world are tough to digest while you’re whizzing by at 60 mph. For instance, I recently discovered that our headquarters stands across the street from the pier that the Pony Express used to deliver mail across the West Coast.

And if you’re not the type to wander and wait for happenstance to bring you a slice of local history, try Niantic Labs’ FieldTrip, a location-based Android app that provides rich historical details about the places around you. (Sorry iOS users — your version of the app is still in the works.)

Walking’s simply the greatest way to get around

Granted, a Sunday stroll won’t get you on your way to your next vacation, or help you make it to work when you’re running late. It’s just not an efficient way to travel long distances.

But no other mode of locomotion gets you out into the world, helps you stay healthy and happy, and keeps you informed quite like the good ole leisurely amble. The reasons to walk are all around you, so get out there and enjoy yourself!

Related articles

I know I said walking takes no practice, but if you want to do it perfectly, follow these instructions on how to walk.

Now that you know our top 5 reasons to walk, keep the debate going by reading other Esurance bloggers’ takes on the:

 

2 Responses to “Top 5 Reasons to Walk”

  1. NYMI
    January 30, 2013 #

    Walking is great exercise, no doubt. Part of the reason NYC is one of the skinniest cities in the country is because everybody walks everywhere. An hour of walking actually burns more calories than an hour of weight lifting at the gym.

    If you walk to the store, work, etc. you will also save on your transportation costs. No more gas, insurance payments, car repairs, etc. It's really a great way to save money and improve your health!

  2. Tom
    February 12, 2014 #

    Walking is a proper excercise for obbies, diabetics and blood pressure patient.

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