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Public Works & Natural Resources

Engineering Services

Walking, Alternative Modes

Consider incorporating walking into your every day life. Building an everyday walking habit keeps you active, burns calories, and helps you to say no to overindulgence. Be flexible with what you'll do on any given day. If you had a long walk planned but find that you have to work late, switch days. Go just 20 minutes and do the long walk another day.

Walking is ideal. You can walk just about any where, just put on your walking shoes and step outside and go. Look for opportunities to incorporate walking into your daily lives. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk around the airport instead of sitting by the gate, fly a kite with a friend instead of meeting for lunch, when you park your car, opt for a faraway space rather than the closest one, walk to deliver messages at work instead of using e-mail, or walk instead of drive to the video or grocery store.

Most people walk because they enjoy it. It's a great way to escape your daily routine, get outside and enjoy the view, and get some fresh air. You can walk at any level you like from a Sunday afternoon stroll, to a full day in the mountains, to long distance hiking trails, to multi-day trekking holidays across exotic mountain ranges on the other side of the world. For most of us, the fact that walking is a healthy activity is a hidden bonus.

Physical activity need not be strenuous to be beneficial; moderate physical activity, such as 30 minutes of brisk walking five or more times a week, provides important health benefits. Walking is good for your heart. Walking at a moderate pace (3 mph) can cut the risk of heart disease, which is the nation's leading cause of death. This is the same benefit you would get from aerobics, jogging, or other vigorous exercise; however, walking is low impact.

Along with its benefits to the heart, walking:

Improves circulation and helps combat high blood pressure
Helps keep cholesterol levels in check
Helps breathing
Reduces the symptoms of stress and depression
Bolsters the immune system
Helps keep your bones, muscles, and joints strong and healthy
Improves range of motion
Helps prevent and combat osteoporosis
Helps prevent and control diabetes
Helps take off and control weight
Decreases the risk for colon cancer
Helps relieve the pain of arthritis
Helps boost your brainpower and prevent memory loss
Helps you feel more satisfied with your general health status

Walking is aerobic exercise. It keeps you fit and it helps you take off extra weight and keep it off. Obesity has become an epidemic among Americans; it is especially troubling that so many American children are now overweight or obese. Lack of exercise is a major factor. Walking ranks alongside jogging for its physiological and psychological benefits. You burn approximately 100 calories for every mile you jog or walk along a flat surface. If you walk over softer surfaces such as grass or sand and add in a few hills, you will burn more calories per mile.

Any prolonged aerobic exercise increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain which helps it become more alert and efficient. In particular, the frontal areas of the brain (which are responsible for logical thinking, planning, and memory) are specifically influenced by walking.

Walking is a form of weight bearing exercise. In your 20's, your body weight acts as a stimulus for building up peak bone mass during walking. Later in life, around the mid 50's, walking can help to prevent the loss of bone and avoid the bone wasting disease osteoporosis.

Rather than reach for a cup of coffee or a sugary snack, a brisk walk will help to reduce stress... not add to it. Any stressful event, or the caffeine in a cup of coffee or tea, will trigger the release of adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones are fine in small amounts, but for optimum health, they need to be neutralized. During aerobic exercise, a range of beta endorphins are released by the brain which have a calming and soothing effect.

Make fitness and weight loss a part of your life, but don't let them rule you. Sometimes life's most joyful moments occur over a chocolate croissant and a cafe au lait, or on rainy nights when you skip your walk and sit by the fire instead. Give yourself permission to let go once in a while--then start again fresh tomorrow.

If you’re middle-aged or older and have not been physically active, check with your doctor before beginning a vigorous exercise program.

How to Walk

Good, tall posture is important during walking. Keep your back straight, your chin up, look forward not down, and rock your feet from heel to toe. Aggressively pushing off with your toes adds power and speed. Keep your shoulders and arms relaxed as you walk and breath rhythmically. Bending your arms at a right angle at the elbow allows for a quick arm swing and greater speed. Keep your elbows tucked in and make sure your hands trace a compact, quick arc from the waistband to chest height.

The only equipment you need to walk is a good pair of walking shoes. Look for the following when you buy a pair of walking shoes:

A snug fit
A well-cushioned heel
Good arch support
Enough room for your toes to wiggle
Flexible, slip-resistant soles

Power Walking

Power walking is the next step up. As you get fitter, turn a stroll into a power walk to raise your heartbeat and breathing rate. After a few weeks of regular brisk walking, you should notice a change in your body shape. Some of the big muscles involved with walking are the gluteus maximus in your bottom, iliopsaos muscles at the front of your hips, and hamstrings at the back of your legs.

Community Benefits

Walking as a form of transportation can have beneficial consequences for communities. Less driving helps relieve congestion and well- designed landscape and residential density will improve air quality more than will additional roadways. Regulatory and design strategies, including traffic-calming measures, sidewalks, bike paths, underpasses or tunnels help make communities safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Be Safe

Crosswalks are the safest place to cross streets. If there is no marked crosswalk, cross at the corner.
Never step off a curb suddenly. Although pedestrians have the right of way, yield to traffic closest to you and start crossing only when it is safe.
Cross directly from curb to curb, taking the shortest route possible. Be predictable when walking across streets. Obey pedestrian traffic signals.
Wait to cross the street until the "walk" symbol appears. As long as you enter the crosswalk with the "walk" signal, you may take as long as necessary to finish crossing. Traffic must continue to yield to you.
Watch for turning traffic when crossing at any intersection.
Make eye contact with drivers before stepping off the curb. Thank them for yielding to you with a friendly wave.
Motorcycles and bicycles must yield to pedestrians. Pedestrians should be aware of bicycles and motorcycles, just as they are of cars.
Most vehicle/ pedestrian accidents happen at night. Wear light-colored or reflective clothing when walking at night and carry a flashlight.

ADA/Curb Ramps

As part of the Transportation System Management (TSM) Program, the City continues to construct ADA accessible curb ramps throughout the City. Contact us to request the replacement of a standard curb with an ADA accessible curb ramp:

Public Works & Natural Resources

Engineering Services
385 Kimbark Street
Longmont, CO 80501
(303) 651-8304

FAX (303) 651-8352
E-mail address: pweng@ci.longmont.co.us

Sidewalk Repair

Through the Concrete Force Account and Concrete Rehabilitation Program, the City replaces damaged sidewalks, curb and gutter, and miscellaneous concrete items. After you report the damaged concrete, City staff will use the Concrete Rating Manual to evaluate the severity level of the damage and prioritize the repair. The most severely damaged concrete will be replaced with the Concrete Force Account. Please contact the Engineering Services to report damaged sidewalks.

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Public Works & Natural Resources

Updated 2/8/12

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