This is a guest blog post by the American Council on Exercise, a lead organization for the March monthly theme of Walking to Connect Community (#Walk2Connect). It can also be found on the ACE website here.
The popularity of walking as a fitness activity is growing by leaps and bounds. Low risk and easy to start, ACE has always encouraged walking because of its multiple health benefits which include lower blood pressure and improved mental health. With the recent release of the updated Physical Activity Guidelines – where experts now encourage any amount of physical activity to achieve health benefits – individuals are more empowered than ever to take a walk and feel great about it.
We now know that in addition to health benefits, walking connects individuals to their communities. In the U.S., more than a fifth of adults say they often or always feel lonely or isolated from others. By encouraging people to walk in their neighborhoods, individuals encounter more opportunities to engage with their fellow community members, thereby achieving health and social benefits. Growing research points to the importance of walkable neighborhoods and walking as a means to restore social networks.
As an added benefit, the incorporation of a walking buddy generates similar perks as a fitness pal: Both provide a social benefit as well as an accountability factor, which increases the likelihood that the physical activity will be sustained and continued.
- ACE’s Walking Toolkits for fitness professionals and community members
- Examples of successful walking groups, such as ACE’s partners Girl Trek and Walk With A Doc, who excel at dovetailing the duel benefits of walking for health and walking for community connection
- Every Body Walk, a national walking leader with a library of walk-related videos and articles