10063377697?profile=RESIZE_710xFor those of us who live in car-centric suburban areas far from any urban center, it's getting more challenging to combine walking, biking, and public transportation to get to the places you want to go. Many of us value living in a place where you can walk to a restaurant, coffee shop, drug store, or grocery store. The cost to the environment of so many cars with one or two passengers is high. The price to our health increases when we get home each night exhausted from being in traffic for hours and can't find the energy to get outside for a walk. Staying in enclosed spaces for too much of the day—car, office, home—makes it hard to maintain a healthy weight.

Not everyone is suited to intense workout modalities such as Peloton, Tai Bo, or Yoga. But most of us can walk. There are more than just a few "win-wins" associated with walking. So many of us get to know our neighbors, or at least our neighbors' dogs when walking. Dogs get you talking to new people. Oh, what a cute dog! What kind of breed is that? Dogs give us the perfect excuse to walk every day, but all you need are a pair of good shoes, some time in your day, and just a little bit of a kick to overcome inertia and get started.

Some data shows the benefit of more walking to the whole society. The results of a study published on January 24 in the Journal of the American Medical Association show that if all able Americans between the ages of 40 and 85 increased their physical activity with 10 minutes of walking, there would be more than 100,000 fewer deaths every year. That's a decrease of 7% of overall deaths. Up the amount of walking to 20 minutes avoids more than 200,000 deaths each year.

These are impressive statistics. For ten minutes a day alone or with friends, you can do something fun and interesting, like checking out the house remodels in the neighborhood and getting some ideas for your own—don't be the last person on the block to get solar panels! If the people around you add 10 minutes of physical activity to their lives, you can see the benefits up close. Grandparents, elderly parents, friends who commute long hours to work, and single working moms will live longer, gain better health, more resiliency in the face of stress.

Ready to walk to Trader Joe's for some healthy vegetables? Want to walk a mile to the nearest BART station or take a walk around the block with your partner? There is help for us in Contra Costa County. Not only do we have decent weather (outside of fire season) and plenty of local, state, and national parks to enjoy, 511 Contra Costa will help you "walk the walk" when it comes to mitigating Climate Change. Lots of great ideas and resources for commuters, but the organization makes walking fun through its Winter Walk Challenge. No membership dues are needed. And 511 Contra Costa provides you with some incentive to get off the couch. Pick a destination like Peet's, Phil's, a local coffee shop, or the San Francisco Creamery, where you can enjoy a guilt-free ice cream cone. If you take the Challenge and document your walk with a few photos, you will be entered in a raffle and get a chance to win a $35 Amazon gift card.

Sustainable Contra Costa provides similar opportunities to better your health while having fun through its Cleaner Contra Costa Challenge. One of the actions you can take to earn points in the Challenge is to Bike, Walk, Skateboard, or Unicycle. You can save money, reduce carbon emissions, earn points for the Challenge, and bragging rights in your neighborhood by getting to spots within a mile of home without using fossil fuels instead of driving. The Challenge is a great way to join a supportive community and achieve great things together.


Photo by Nigel Cohen on Unsplash

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  • Inspiring article - I definitely want to walk more now!
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