The scene is a hotel in a large American city. I’m at a conference and heading out the front door to run an errand and meet colleagues at a restaurant down the road. I’ve Googled the directions, looked at the map, timed it all out, and put on my comfortable walking shoes. The only thing I need to know leaving the hotel is whether to turn left or right.
I shouldn’t have asked.
“Where are you walking to?”
I give the address.
“That’s too far to walk.”
No, it’s not. I’ve got the map. And Google says it’s 31 minutes away.
“That’s a long way.”
I want the exercise.
“But it’s cold and it’s raining.”
<Fact: It’s 6 degrees Celsius.>
I’m from Canada. This is warm. And it’s just mist. And I’ve got my umbrella.
The concierge shakes his head disapprovingly.
Now to be clear I don’t think this is an American versus Canadian thing. I’ve had similar reactions from hotel staff in Winnipeg and Calgary.
In New York walking would be normal. In Chicago walking downtown would be fine. In Toronto and Montreal, ditto. You walk.
But some cities culturally aren’t walking cities. Walking shouldn’t be weird.
The U.S. Surgeon General is calling on Americans to “step it up” — that is, to do more walking. He says this easy and free activity could prevent serious health problems.
On Wednesday, Dr. Vivek Murthy launched the “Step It Up” campaign in Washington, D.C., a national effort to promote walking and wheelchair rolling. He calls it a powerful tool to prevent chronic health problems.
“The science tells us that 22 minutes of brisk walking or moderate physical activitycan get you these health benefits of reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes,” Murthy explained.
And I love, love, love that he’s including wheelchair rolling in this campaign. Yay for inclusive fitness!