By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Take a walk, for your health
44b0d02d66aca58972ef90e032576df6bd6f68c73178bc4076d22db0a206b526
Walking is a simple and inexpensive way to get America moving, according to Murthy's call to action. It guards against chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes and keeps obesity at bay. - photo by Kelsey Dallas
Forget baseball. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy wants America's national pastime to be taking a stroll.

"I'm asking for individuals and communities across America to reclaim the culture of physical activity that we once had," Murthy told USA Today. "It's not just a call for individuals to walk more, but for all of us to make communities more walkable."

Walking is a simple and inexpensive way to get America moving, according to Murthy's call to action. It guards against chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes and keeps obesity at bay.

However, as one Harvard Medical School newsletter on the activity notes, "walking doesn't get the respect it deserves." Americans prefer the convenience of cars for daily travel, and people who are serious about their physical fitness turn up their nose at an exercise that doesn't even make them sweat.

The average American walks around 5,000 steps each day, falling far short of the 10,000 steps recommended by most health officials, Business Insider reported in July.

This differential is disturbing because people are missing out on a variety of mental and physical health benefits, Harvard's newsletter noted, highlighting a meta-analysis of walking research that showed that "walking reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 31 percent and cut the risk of dying (during an 11-year study period) by 32 percent."

Additionally, walking during the day helps people sleep better at night, The Huffington Post reported, noting that "exposing your body to the sunlight and staying outside until it grows dark helps recalibrate the hormone melatonin. As melatonin rises, so do feelings of sleepiness."

And walking has been shown to reduce rumination, a type of negative thinking associated with mental illnesses like depression, as Deseret News National reported in July.

Murthy's walking campaign, titled "Step It Up!," is composed of five strategic goals, including supporting research on the benefits of walking and designing communities where it's safe and easy to travel by foot.

The surgeon general hopes to enlist the support of schools, businesses, health care professionals and policymakers, noting that improving public health with walking requires more than just convincing people to lace up their sneakers. For a community to be "walkable," it needs to be well-lit and relatively crime-free, with spacious sidewalks to welcome lots of walkers, he said.

"(Step It Up!) is not just a call for individuals to walk more, but for all of us to make communities more walkable," Murthy told USA Today.
Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter