Don't Take the Road Toward Health This Summer. Take the Trail!

Posted 07/23/14 by Elissa Southward in Health and Wellness

Photo CC Five Rivers MetroParks via Flickr

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” ~ John Muir

Walking is a great (and free!) way to get outdoors and get some exercise! 

Walking is associated with reductions in risk of dementia, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer (breast and colon in particular) and cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, being outdoorsand around greenery can help with concentration and stress recovery, and sunlight on the skin leads to vitamin D production, which helps fight off cancer, osteoporosis and heart attacks (scientists have even developed a calculator to help determine how much sunlight your body needs, and don’t forget that sunscreen!).

In cities across the U.S., public leaders are emerging as real champions for the walking movement. For example, Nashville, Tenn., has invested more than $130 million in public infrastructure to support healthy, active lifestyles, including the building of new sidewalks and bikeways, as well as parks and multi-modal streets. And, Mayor Karl Dean recognizes that building infrastructure isn’t enough; residents need to be educated and encouraged to get outside and walk. 

Currently, nearly 24.7 percent of Nashville’s population of adults and 29 percent of children are obese, and the city also grapples with higher than average pollution levels. To help address these issues, Mayor Dean has launched a citywide campaign called NashVitality, which focuses on making both the city and its residents healthy and active. 

NashVitality is primarily funded through an HHS Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) grant, which is intended to address obesity, one of the leading preventable causes of premature death and disability.

The NashVitality website features a number of programs and resources to foster community engagement and healthy, active living. This year, Mayor Dean has also brought back the highly-popular Walk 100 Miles challenge for a third time, inviting all Nashvillians to join him in walking 100 miles during the summer of 2014. To meet the 100-mile goal, you can walk on your own, walk with a group or walk with the Mayor himself on weekly “Walk with the Mayor” group walks. We applaud Mayor Dean and Nashville’s commitment to walking and health!

And if you’re not in the Nashville area, you need not be left out. Other cities have similar walking challenges of their own. Check out these great examples in San Franciso, Calif.,Lake Oswego, Ore., and San Antonio, Texas.

So let’s all take a page out of Nashville’s book, or these other great cities. No matter where you live in America, why not complete your own 100-mile challenge this summer on your local trail? Summer is only nearing its halfway point, so there’s still time!

You’ll walk your way toward a healthier life, and have tons of fun.  

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