By Meghan Cass
How often do you walk instead of driving your car? Can you walk to your grocery store? Your children’s school? To work?
We all know that walking is one of the best ways to stay healthy and fit and theoretically, it should be one of the easiest. But not everyone’s community is pedestrian friendly.
Dan Burden, founder of non-profit organization Walkable Communities, Inc., has made it his mission to plan and develop more sustainable, “walkable” neighborhoods in America. In 2001, Time Magazine named him one of the six most influential civic leaders of tomorrow.
“Walkability is about bringing back the health of the towns and the health of the people,” Burden told Comfortista in an exclusive interview.
“When suburban living exploded in the U.S., everything was recalibrated to the scale of the car. We stopped exercising and getting to know our neighbors the way we used to. But walkability is the glue that holds the community together. My work is about bringing towns back to the scale of the human foot,” he said.
To that end, Burden works with developers to support intact town centers with ample public space, facilities for people of all abilities, speed-controlled main streets and well-linked walkways. Here, he shared with us his current list of the top 10 most walkable cities in America:
“These are not in any particular order, though I have to agree that Cambridge andWashington, D.C. need to be near the top. Denver is also making it toward this list. And it’s hard to find a town in New England that isn’t walkable. Everything was laid out before the automobile,” said Burden.
Burden stresses even if your community isn’t considered very “walkable,” there are likely places for you to get out in the fresh air, stretch your legs, and socialize with your neighbors.
“Try to get to a public park or an outdoor area on the evenings or weekends. Participate in activities and events where people know one another to create the same benefits.”
Are your shoes made for walking? In order to make the most of your walk – whether brisk or leisurely – you’ll want to have the right gear.
Here are a few tips on how to maintain select and maintain your walking shoes:
- Choose a style that is lightweight and breathable to keep your feet cool and comfortable
- A slightly beveled or undercut heel supports the rolling heel-to-toe motion of walking
- Shoes should be flexible in the toe area but stiff enough to provide shock absorption
- There should be enough room in the toe box for your toes to move freely, and your toes should not touch the end of the shoe. The heel should fit fit snugly and not slip.
- Replace your walking shoes every 300-600 miles (or 2-6 months). Even if they still look fine on the outside, the interior support breaks down over time. Prolonged walking in old shoes can lead to pain and even injury.
- If you can, alternative between two pairs of walking shoes to allow the midsoles “bounce back” in between walks.
- To get the longest life from your walking shoes, don’t wear them to work or running errands – only for walking.
And of course, Comfortista has some favorite walking shoe styles to share. The new GEL-Tech Walker Neo 2 from Asics has incredibly supportive technology.
The Glide 2 from Earth features unique styling, where a 3.7-degree inclined sole helps correct posture and burn more calories during your walk.
A perennial favorite, the Orthaheel Action Walker is an orthotic style that works to realign your foot to its natural position and reduce heel pain.
There are hundreds of shoe styles to suit your lifestyle and fitness goals. Click here to browse FootSmart’s comprehensive collection of walking and athletic shoes.
And let us know: is your community walkable? How do you find ways to increase your daily steps? And what shoes do you wear while doing it?