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Walking is a free, easily accessible activity that improves physical and mental health and connects people with the outdoors. A variety of resources exist for promoting walking.
Walking is an easy and adaptable form of exercise that people of varying fitness levels can participate in and enjoy. Numerous studies link walking to improved physical and mental health. Walking outdoors also creates a valuable connection between the walker and the natural environment.
Organizations interested in creating a program to promote walking can review the following programs and resources to help them in getting started.
Everybody Walk Across PA is an eight-week semi-structured walking program to encourage increased physical activity and healthy eating habits. This Penn State Extension program encourages regular walking by having people establish teams and team captains. People don’t have to walk together or in the same places but do report mileage to their captains each week. Through web-links, photos, and stories, walkers can explore hiking possibilities featuring waterfalls, beautiful vistas, family and dog friendly walks, and interesting geological areas.
The Lehigh Valley Health Network and Wildlands Conservancy’s Get Out! Lehigh Valley provides safe, fun activities to explore parks, trails, and gardens. The program connects community members to the land, water, ecological and recreational resources available in the Lehigh Valley.
This Partnership for Better Health website provides a map, guide and detailed site information for more than 200 public parks, trails and recreation facilities in Cumberland and Perry counties.
Step it Up! is the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy’s call to action on walking and walkable communities. The Surgeon General explains that “Walking is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to build up physical activity in your life.” The 2015 report not only encourages people of all abilities to get out and take a brisk walk every day but it also calls on professionals and advocates from many sectors—including parks and recreation—to create safe, supportive environments for everyone to walk or wheelchair roll.
This Pennsylvania Department of Health program offers tips to optimize walking experiences, personal activity logs and route maps. WalkWorks has identified routes in several communities that highlight places of interest along the way.
The American Heart Association offers a Worksite Walking Program Kit that encourages employers to establish walking routes around workplaces and offer incentives to employees who adopt a more active lifestyle.
For more information, see the right hand column of the on-line edition at http://conservationtools.org/guides/145.
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