Globalization might have made the world smaller, but it’s also separated us from what is so close. Many of us know the resorts of foreign countries better than the other side of town. Mike Bloomberg, mayor of New York (where he was born and bred), once quipped that he’d only been to Queens to board a jet from the airport there.
All billionaires’ whims aside, every town and city on Earth has its nooks and crannies, its characters and cranks, its special qualities. I was fascinated by the stories of three Americans from very different parts of the Country who walked (or are walking) every single block of their hometown.
I always recite the benefits of walking – better health, more energy, increased life span – but I sometimes forget that besides walking for health, walking can also be fun and interesting, and in the cases of three incredible walkers, endlessly different every single day!
Well, these stories certainly put the idea back in my head. Are you ready for an adventure that starts and ends at your doorstep every day? Find out what these three walkers did to turn their boring routines upside down and make walking for fun and walking for health one and the same.
Walk One: Beauty and Scenery – A Tour of Epic San Francisco
San Francisco might be America’s most beautiful city. From the stunning views near Golden Gate Bridge to the fascinatingly crooked Lombard Street and epic Twin Peaks, you can fall in love with the City by the Bay overnight.
Tom Graham decided to spread out the love affair and take it one street at a time. Seven years later, he’d finished his journey and tells his story on an entertaining website called SF Walking Man.
Graham, a journalism teacher at SF City College, lived his dream and took in America’s crown jewel of scenery. San Francisco has kept its history better than many American cities. You can still see the old theaters, the old haunts of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, the Italian waiters in North Beach cafes and many of the same places that haunted Jimmy Stewart in Hitchcock’s classic cinematic masterpiece “Vertigo.”
As a doctor, I can’t stop telling people about the benefits of walking. In Tom Graham’s case, he had countless stories to tell his students and material for an entire website. But we all can’t live by the Golden Gate. Our second walker started walking her city because she had to.
Eva Martin: Walking for Health through Santa Rosa – Do or Die
Eva Martin wasn’t like Tom Graham. Neither young nor fit, this 72-year-old woman had suffered three heart attacks and heard from her doctor that the end might very well be in sight. For her, the program was all about walking for health so she could live to see another day.
Eva resolved to walk every street of Santa Rosa, CA to get her exercise in. As much for variety as for a routine to follow, Martin knew she wouldn’t last on a walking regimen that started and stopped at her front door. She had to get creative. At times, she had her husband join her. At others, she got a ride half the way.
In any case, she is fulfilling her dream and reaping the benefits of walking every day. Santa Rosa is no San Francisco or San Diego. But there’s a lot Eva didn’t know about. Now that she walking for health every day she’s got her life back and a million stories worth telling.
The Biggest Fish of All: The New York Pavement Pounder
In many ways, the two stories I’ve mentioned are merely a warm-up for this most ambitious walk of all: every single street of New York City. Matt Green, a former engineer who renounced regular work to walk the earth (yes, literally!), had already made a cross-country walk from Long Island, NY to Oregon. Now he’s going after the big fish.
The logistics of such a journey are mind-boggling. I try to imagine how Matt can get safely from one spot to another – or how he can even get there at all. From industrial strips in State Island and Queens to inaccessible roads in the northern Bronx, this trip is the epitome of “going big.”
Of course, the rewards are proportional. How many characters, famous people and curious souls must Matt be meeting in NYC? I have to say I envy his moxie.
Where’s Your Road?
The road trip is as American as blue jeans and rock & roll. The journey on foot is more of an Old World concept. Take a walking stick (or better yet, a pedometer) and get ready to explore your neighborhood, your town, your entire city.
You don’t live in one of America’s best cities? I guarantee you have a lot of sights worth exploring nearby. Open a local map and start planning. Highlight each street that you walk. Once your highlighter starts covering ground, you’ll get a buzz and start yearning for your next chance to hit the streets.
Whether you are walking for health like Eva Martin or walking for pure relaxation and enjoyment like Matt and Tom, you’ll discover worlds you never knew existed.
Did I mention these walks are free? Just take your imagination, some time and, if possible, a friend that can use a walk, too.
Do you know anyone tired of walking the same route? Or worse, walking on a treadmill, going nowhere? Tell them about how these three people created a unique walking goal, and in the process made walking for health fun, interesting and endlessly different every day!
P.S. Do you know someone who might find this article interesting? Please use the share buttons at the bottom of this page to email this article to them or post it on Facebook.
Make sure you do not miss any news or articles for walking for health, benefits of walking, fitness and wellness by subscribing to my newsletter. Just type your email into the subscribe box at the top of this page. I will never give out your email and you can cancel at any time.