In early December 2014, my travels took me to Beirut, Lebanon to give a talk at American University of Beirut. Beirut is the capital and largest city in Lebanon and located on a peninsula along the Mediterranean coast. It is an ancient city that has been continuously inhabited for over 5000 years. About 25 miles north of Beirut is the beautiful coastal city of Byblos, which is thought to be the oldest inhabited city in the world dating back over 7000 years and site of the original alphabet developed by the Phoenician’s. Following World War II, Beirut became a tourist and financial center that was often referred to as “the Paris of the Middle East”, thanks to its French influences and vibrant cultural and intellectual life. Though ravaged by a mid-70’s civil war, the city remains a popular tourist destination and is one of the most cosmopolitan and liberal cities in the Arab world.
I was there to speak about the importance of exercise to health at a meeting sponsored by American University of Beirut (AUB). Like most countries around the world, Lebanon is plagued by non-communicable diseases that are due in large part to an inactive way of life. Unfortunately, one of the unintended consequences of technology has been that we have engineered physical activity out of our lives and the lives of our children. That is why it is so important to get people around the world to walk more. I believe that daily walking is the single most important thing one can do to improve their health and I found a receptive audience of health and nutrition experts for my talk at AUB. During my travels around the world, I continue to be amazed at the global extent of the inactivity problem and how everyone agrees with the simple solution of walking more.
During my visit to Beirut I of course took time out every day to go for a walk. My favorite spot to walk was the beautiful seaside promenade called the Corniche. This is a scenic waterfront walkway stretching for several miles and offering spectacular views of the Mediterranean and downtown area. Like in most cities, I found walking to be the best way to explore Beirut and see first-hand its people and culture.
I hope this post finds you well and getting the walking you need to stay healthy. Thanks for reading my blog and encouraging everybody to walk!