In late October 2014, my travels took me to beautiful Sydney, Australia to speak at Walk21, the 15th Annual Conference on Walking and Walkable Communities. The meeting was held October 21-23, 2014 at the Luna Park Conference Facility located alongside the beautiful harbor in Sydney, Australia. Walk21 2014 was a remarkable meeting that brought together a wide variety of stake holders interested in the development of healthy and sustainable communities where people choose to walk.
In addition to those from the fields of medicine and public health, the bulk of attendees were involved in city planning, transportation, education, urban design and architecture. All of the attendees were passionate about the importance of walking to health and quality of life. I came away from this meeting with an enhanced appreciation for the importance of walking and just how we might best get citizens of the world to do it.
My focus has primarily been from a medical perspective and on assessing and prescribing walking to patients like a medication. However, I came to realize that it does little good for me to prescribe walking to my patients if they have nowhere to do it. On the contrary, if patients have inviting walking trails and green space nearby where they live and work, they are much more inclined to walk. Furthermore, if they live in a city that places an emphasis on public transportation, with safe sidewalks and crosswalks that make getting around easier on foot than in a car, they are much more likely to walk. So it became clear to me that healthcare providers need to partner with urban planners to improve the health of our cities urban populations by making our environment more walkable.
Of course, while I was in Sydney I made sure to get out and do a lot of walking every day. And Sydney is a great place to do it because there is an amazing public transportation system. There is really no need to have a car in Sydney because you can get anywhere by train, ferry boat, bus or taxi. But the easiest way is to simply walk and I had some great walks thru the city, along the Harbor and Opera House, along Bondi and Manly Beach and even across the Sydney Harbor Bridge. There really is no way better to explore a new city than on foot.
So I hope this blog finds you well and walking every day.
In good health!
Photo Caption: At Walk21 with Scott Bricker (left) and Tyler Norris (center)