Take a Walk USA!


I love watching the Olympics, especially when our country is competing. I just love shouting USA! USA! from the comfort of my living room when our athletes come out on top.

Aside from our elite Olympians, our population as a whole is in no way in contention for winning a gold medal when it comes to our walking habits.

A recent study by the University of Tennessee was covered by ABC and said that only 8 percent of all errands and daily routines in the US are done by walking.  The average Japanese citizen takes 7,168 steps a day. Australians take 9,695 steps per day.  And for the average American sloth who has become accustomed to drive-ins for fast food, coffee, and pharmacy pick ups? We only walk an average of 5,117 steps a day. Not much to cheer about.  

This week, my town, as part of its green initiative, sponsored Curb Your Car Week. ColorBrightonGreen.org, a non-profit organization that educates residents and businesses on global climate change, this week sponsored Curb Your Car Week Oct. 3-9. Brighton residents and others in the area were encouraged to register at www.colorbrightongreen.org and pledge a few days – or a whole week – to driving less.

If you didn’t register yet, it’s not too late! Log in and register any time this week you did not take your car to run an errand or walk to work or school.

Last spring, 184 Brighton and Rochester residents participated in the same event and logged in the miles that they walked, biked, bussed or carpooled. The results: participants saved 3,819 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions from spewing into the air.

Now I know, I am spoiled. All my kids either walk or take the bus to school. I know most of you have a hellish commute from the suburbs to the downtown of wherever you live.

I live only seven- tenths of a mile from my job teaching preschoolers.  If I am organized in the morning, I can get out the door on time to enjoy a healthy walk through a beautiful neighborhood that backs into a wooded grove and a reservoir.

Even when it’s not Curb Your Car Week, I like to hoof it to work. So I thought it was no skin off my back when I made the pledge to walk or bike this week for at least three days.

But it’s not easy being green. The toughest part switching from my car to my feet is coordination.

I mean, I admit: I’m not much of an athlete, but I can put one foot in front of the other. But then, there’s the stuff that accompanies all of us to work. We want our coffee cups. If I’m walking I have to have my iPod. And I don’t know about you, but I seldomly go to work empty-handed. I am usually lugging many books and art materials back and forth to work. 

And teachers take strange, cumbersome things to school -especially preschool – that don’t make for an easy stroll. For example, I didn’t walk to work today because carrying a small wash basin that I would later use in the morning for a science/art project did not seem like my idea of a good time.

 So far this week, I walked to work twice. When I signed up for Curb Your Car Week, the sun shone and the skies were blue. And this week, well, it rained so much the week should have been called Curb your Ark Week.

But I did not lose my resolve. I donned a raincoat and found my umbrella.  I dug my rainboots out of the closet and headed out into the cool air. And while I walked, I really was working and working out. I gathered fallen leaves and acorns for an art project. I thought about what toys I would put out while I blasted Viva la Vida into my ears. I had time to pet the yellow lab who waits for me in his driveway. I had time to process and transition between home and work.  And when I got to work, I was a little wet, but relaxed, happy and energized.

Come on, America, let’s show the Australians and Japanese who is still No. 1!

If you want to boost your health and that of the planet’s, take your own Curb Your Car challenge and pledge to drive less.  Take that walk to the bank or the library or the Starbucks and say hi to some neighbors on the way.  Until the snows come to Rochester, even after this week, I will be walking uphill to work. Both ways.

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About stacylynngittleman

I have been a public relations professional and reporter -- and always thought I would live in the New York Metro area - before my husband took a job in Rochester, New York. Most in Metro New York can't find Rochester on a map,and neither could I before we moved. I am now a columnist and a freelance writer for Rochester's only daily newspaper, the Democrat & Chronicle. I also am passionate about gardening, fitness and most of all, Jewish education and Israel Advocacy. Here's my perspective on Western New York living - the good, the bad, and the snowy.

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