I love walking. As far as I’m concerned, it’s impossible to do too much of it, especially in the contemporary world of desk work, binge watching, online shopping and car share apps. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big fan of technology, and as much a consumer of these conveniences as the next person. I’m just saying that it all adds up to a distinct dearth of movement in our daily lives, particularly of the walking persuasion.
It’s not just about cardio, fresh air, and mitigating the effects of excessive sitting. It’s also about the micro movements involved in the act of walking on various terrains. I’m talking about the muscular actions that take place in our feet as they respond to incline, traction, pace and other variables that characterise different walking surfaces. For this reason, it’s important to me that I not only walk a lot, but that I walk in a variety of different environments – mountainous bush tracks, sand (soft and hard), rocks and pebbles, and even in water, as well as on concrete pathways.
This is just common sense; it’s not like I’m some kind of foot specialist. Near Cheltenham, which is a relatively suburban area, there isn’t a huge amount of variety in terrain, so it’s a bit of a challenge. The beach is not too far away, so that’s something. What’s lacking is slopes and climbs. There are gym machines that cater to that need, and they’re nothing to be sniffed at. Still, I always think that if I’m going to be walking, I might as well stack it with fulfilling my need for sunlight, fresh air and nature time. Outdoor walking is better.
If there was more variety in places to walk in suburban areas, it would be easier for people to avoid common foot conditions. Cheltenham council could, for example, install some kind of linear park that features created hills and valleys, along with different types of ground surfaces for increased variety underfoot. This could also serve as a safe wildlife passage and native bush regeneration site.