By Michael Caduto
(This article about walking complements the article that appeared on January 12, 2023 about how walking is good for people and the planet.)
There is more to life than increasing its speed. — Gandhi
There’s a lot to be said for the old-fashioned wisdom that comes in sayings like: “If the Good Lord had wanted you to fly, you would have had wings.” Instead, we were given feet.
Walking is the original way of getting around. It came before the invention of the wheel, the cart, the wagon, the automobile and the airplane. For that reason alone, it is the “natural” form of locomotion—of moving from one place to another. Walking is simply a practical way to go places—to see people you want to visit and do the errands you need to do.
More than that, you can use walking to set daily goals and string them together into something amazing. The famous Chinese teacher and philosopher Confucius once said that, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Although Confucius lived more than 2,500 years ago, his wisdom is timeless.
I (the writer) walk and run at least 3 miles every day. A few years ago I did the math and discovered that, at this rate, the total number of miles I am walking over the span of every 23 years equals more than the distance that it would take to walk around the world along the equator—24,902 miles (40,076 kilometers). One step at a time, and one day at a time, you, too, can walk around the world—accomplishing something that is healthy for yourself and the planet!
WALK AROUND THE WORLD
What You Will Need:
- Map of your neighborhood
- Highlighting marker
- Ball of string
- Writing Journal
- Map of the World
- Large bulletin board
- Push pins
- Comfortable pair of walking or running shoes
- Pedometer (optional)
Steps to Take:
- Set a small walking goal to meet every day. Pick a distance that you’re comfortable with. Keep in mind that walking to school, to the playground, the baseball or soccer field, local store and so on—all count toward your daily distance. Walking the dog counts, too!
- Get a copy of a map of the area where you live, including trails. If you can’t find it a local outdoor/camping supply store or bookstore, try the Chamber of Commerce or City Hall. You can also search the Find a Trail maps on the Upper Valley Trails Alliance website: https://www.uvtrails.org/, or download the Walk Woodstock map to search for a route among Woodstock’s more than 60 miles of local trails: http://npmaps.com/wp-content/uploads/woodstock-trail-map.pdf
- Find the scale of distance on the map. For example, “one inch equals 1.5 miles.”
- Use the highlighter to mark some of the routes that you normally walk, and some routes that you want to add as part of your Walk Around the World.
- Run a piece of string along each route and cut it to length. Then straighten each measure of string next to the ruler to get the number of inches for each route on the map. Write down this length for each route.
- Using the map’s distance scale, calculate how far each of the walks measures on the ground. If the map’s scale is 1-inch equals 1.5 miles, then a 2-inch distance on your map, when measured on the ground, would be: 2 inches x 1.5 miles per inch = 3 miles. If the maps scale is 1 centimeter equals 1 kilometer, then a 2-centimeter distance on your map, when measured on the ground, would be: 2 centimeters x 1 kilometer per centimeter = 2 kilometers. Record each of these distances in your walking journal.
- Break it down into small goals to start. At first, walk one of the shorter routes every day. As you get into better physical condition you can walk farther by adding some longer routes.
- Each time you take a walk, record the date, location and distance in your Walking Journal. Keep track of the total distance that you have walked over time. Optional: You can also use a pedometer to record your walking distances. This is a small battery-powered device that hangs on your waistband or belt and measures how many steps you take. Based on how long each of your steps is, the pedometer multiplies that length times the number of steps to calculate the distance you’ve walked.
- Pin the local map next to the map of the world on the bulletin board. Use some string and pins to show the total distance you have walked to date on the map of the world, and how far that distance would reach from your home to the next town, the next county, the next state, across the country and so on.
- Learn about the states, provinces, countries, people, plants and animals at the locations that your total walking distance (to date) reaches to from your home. Imagine what it would be like to visit some of those places! Start a list of locations you would like to travel in your lifetime.
Over the years—one step at a time—you can walk around the world. Earth from Space. NASA Photo.
- Always ask your parent’s or guardian’s permission before you go out for a walk, whether alone or with a friend. If your parent or guardian says you are too young to walk alone, or with a friend, then ask if they will go with you. This will get them involved with walking, too.
- When you do get permission, be sure to talk to your parent or guardian and choose safe walking routes.
- Always tell a parent or guardian exactly where you are going, what route you are taking and when you are expected back home. Stick with that plan. If you have a cell phone, bring it with you.
- Start a Walk Around the World group to share the experience, increase the level of safety (in numbers) and make it more fun!
- Tell your parents about the book called Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry by Lenore Skenazy. Once they’ve read the book, you can talk about how to strike a balance between allowing you to do things outside, while still keeping you safe.