Some schools in Northeast Mississippi participated Wednesday, at least symbolically, in International Walk-to-School Day, an observance that promotes daily walking, safe streets and connecting sidewalks for exercise, not just during school years but for a lifetime.
It’s a good idea, and some children live within a reasonable distance. But in many Northeast Mississippi districts, especially sparsely populated rural districts, children historically have been separated by several miles from their school campuses.
They either ride school buses or are taken to school by their parents or another responsible person.
Regardless, walking is one of the best exercises for lifetime fitness, and even schools whose students don’t live “in the neighborhood” can promote walking in innovative physical education classes.
A recently developed walking activity called “geocaching” uses Global Positioning System devices to lead students on a high-tech version of scavenger hunts, and it combines satellite navigation, orienteering, computer skills and treasure hunting with walking.
Experts agree that physical activity is one of the cornerstones for good health, and walking is one of the easiest – and cheapest – ways to be physically active. All you need is a good pair of shoes, and you can do it almost anywhere and at any time.
Walking is among the exercises promoted by Mayor Jack Reed Jr.’s Healthy Tupelo Task Force co-chair Hank Boerner.
Experts generally agree that a mere 30 minutes of moderate level physical activity most days is enough to reap health benefits. Most Northeast Mississippians, regardless of residence, have a place for walking.
Based on research, walking regularly has multiple health benefits:
- It reduces the risk of dying from heart disease or stroke.
- It lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, colon cancer, and diabetes.
- It lowers high blood pressure (hypertension).
- It protects against falling and bone fractures in older adults.
- It may help protect against certain types of cancer, such as breast cancer.
- It increases the number of calories your body uses, which helps to control and lose weight.
- It helps control joint swelling and pain from arthritis.
- physical activity like walking also makes people feel better. It:
- Helps keep bones, muscles, and joints healthy.
- Reduces anxiety and depression.
- Helps handle stress.
- Helps energetic levels.
- Helps healthy sleep.
- Improves self-esteem.
- Creates an opportunity to socialize with friends and family.
October is a popular month for health and fitness causes; walking is connected to most as a therapy.
NEMS Daily Journal