Thursday, November 9, 2017

BWL Column: The case for walking

BWL Column
The News-Press, 11/8/2017
by Ken Gooderham

It’s one of the simplest and most accessible exercise regimes around, yet it’s also an essential skill that can have a tremendous impact on both the quality and quantity of life you enjoy. It can help you lose weight, gain insights and reduce stress.

Sound miraculous? Not really… it’s just walking, the exercise everyone takes for granted (until they can’t).

Walking is a pathway to both fitness and to wellness. Let me explain.

Walking for fitness typically means to improve your health by reducing weight, building muscle, improving cardiovascular function, etc. You set goals and track progress with a regular routine designed to challenge your body – albeit in a low-impact way that makes this an ideal entry point for exercise.

Walking for wellness means maintaining your health and mobility, to help your body combat aging and infirmity and to keep both your muscles and your mind better toned. It keeps you moving mentally and physically, a benefit you probably never fully grasp until you have those mobility skills challenged.

You see, walking is not just the means to get around. It strengthens balance and endurance, enabling you to stay independent longer – ever more critical as we live longer and have less support systems around on which to rely.

So if walking is so easier and so good for you, why don’t more people do it? There are a variety of reasons/excuses:
  • It’s inconvenient. Everyone drives everywhere, then cruises the parking lot to find the closest parking spot. Or there’s nowhere nearby where it’s safe to walk, with so many local streets lacking sidewalks or even decent shoulders.
  • It’s inclement. The summers here are hot and humid, and it’s too easy to get caught in the rain. When the weather gets better, the traffic gets worse – and shorter amounts of daylight further curtail your chances to take a stroll.
  • It’s uninspiring. Frankly, you’re more likely to walk when there’s something to walk to and when that’s the faster way to get somewhere. But our roads and development patterns revolve around cars, so unless you are in a more densely populated area (think downtown) or a place where traffic makes you think twice about jumping in your car (think the islands in season), walking is not likely your first choice.
Well, it should be (your first choice, that is) for all the reasons above.

You can combat inconvenience by making walking more of a habit, by parking further away from your destination and letting your legs do some of the work. You can look around your neighborhood for safer routes (or go where it’s easier to walk as a last resort. While you’re doing that, look at who else is out walking… if it’s some you know (or should), maybe you could join them for a walk (one of the better ways to motivate yourself.

Inclement? In the summer, walk early or late when both the heat and rainfall chances are lower. In the winter, make time to walk – or get yourself some lights and reflectors and walk when it’s a little darker.

Uninspired? Get over it! Put on a good pair of shoes and hit the bricks… and inspiration may just come when you least expect it. Maybe it will be a better mood, or a few less pounds and a few more muscles. Maybe it just be how good you feel after a good walk.


Looking for a different place to run? How about the Midpoint Bridge?

Midpoint Madness is back, in the annual 5K put on by the YMCA. This year, both the calendar and the weather are on your side, with a Saturday night race (starts at 7 p.m.) and moderate temperatures (thank you, cool fronts) making this an ideal event. The only downside? The ups and downs of the bridge itself, a possible shock to those used to our flat terrain.

Interested? Look for the link at and join the crowds this Saturday night rallying at Royal Palm Square.

Ready to ride or run?

Run? Besides the Midpoint 5K, you have plenty of choices and distances: The Olde Naples 10K is also this Saturday, while the Coconut Run 5K is Sunday. The following weekend brings you the Naples Fall Classic Half Marathon and 5K. Find out more at, and respectively.

Ride? Upcoming Critical Mass rides are NE Lee (Friday) and Sanibel (Saturday), with Estero on Nov. 17. For night rides lights are required, helmets recommended, and details and sign-up info is online at For a more traditional group ride, there’s the Tour for Epilepsy next Sunday, with 21-, 32- and 62-miles rides starting from Coastline Cyclery in Fort Myers; details at

Both? You’ve got time to train for the Dec. 17 Christmas Duathlon & Triathlon set for Sugden Regional Park in Naples. Otherwise, check or for statewide events.


Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.

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Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at 


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