How to Get and Challenge Your Fellow Community Members to Walk 10000 Steps Per Day?
Many health experts give us this advice: walk 10000 steps a day. We all know how to do it: march in place during commercials, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and park further from the venue you're going to, to name but three ways.
And we have been informed time and time again about the boons of walking 10K daily. It reduces the risk of cancers, heart disease, stroke, and hypertension, which are some of the by-products of a sedentary lifestyle. It helps us live longer as a result. (How surprising that myriad experts dub a sedentary lifestyle as the new smoking!)
But not everyone gets the note. Some people live in communities that aren't suitable for walking around. Some lack sidewalks, are residences for a lot of criminals (including sexual predators), have no parks, and are located in places where summers are hot. So how do we solve the problem of walkability and get the whole town moving?
Some people find it hard to get the 10K a day they need to achieve. Even with jobs that require standing and walking a lot, some of them find the achievement difficult. Why? Not all of them prefer to sprawl out on the couch watching TV rather than getting up and go for a jog. Not all of them rather immerse themselves in social media rather than go to the gym.
Why, really? Some cities and towns aren't fit for walking to begin with.
A 2014 Fitbit study (Yes, you heard me - it's done by Fitbit!) showed that residents in New York walked the most both in winter and in summer. But despite the fact that the largest city in the state and in the USA is among the most walkable, some communities have to step up on how walkable they are.
NYC is the City that Never Sleeps - and Walks a Lot!
Among the least walkable are cities and towns in the Southeast, with some few exceptions like Miami, Florida. Take Mississippi, for instance. With the exception of a few cities like Jackson, a lot of other towns there lack sidewalks, street lights, or both. Most don't have bus transport systems, which in turn spells out a dearth of bus stops. Roads are usually narrow and a lot of towns lack parks.
Summers in the South are typically hot and humid, making a good outdoor walk unbearable. "Nobody in Mississippi goes running in the summer — at least, nobody sane." Claire Suddath laments in TIME.
So what should you do to help communities get their 10K steps with you? Not everybody is accustomed to the noise of sidewalk construction, no matter how you pressure officials to build them in areas where there are none.
How to Get Communities Walking
Bank/Credit Union Walking Programs
Virgil wasn't kidding when he said that the "greatest wealth is health."
If you are a member of a bank or credit union (CU), chances are that you would encounter a walking program that converts weekly steps to money in your account? Who doesn't want the extra cash used to buy a new pair of walking shoes to keep at it or (for those hone on losing weight) that swimsuit you've been aching to wear?
And a 2009 study in Ecometrica suggested that it's such a great idea. Researchers vowed to pay $25 to the two groups of university students to exercise and $100 more if they visited often, at least 8 times that month. Four weeks later, the group who exercised more than once and visited the gym more than 8 times were paid more than those who went there once.
"You just need to get people to keep doing an activity, and paying them money was effective," study author Gary Charness, PhD, concluded.
A lot of banks and CU's have websites that have links to pages or other sites to wellness programs that trade your daily or weekly steps to money. While some let you manually enter your steps, most of them allows you to use your fitness tracking device.
It's like the old motivational method of putting money in a jar. One would vow to put a set amount of money in a jar where it's easily seen and alongside a woman in a bikini or a picture of your kids (the latter of which motivates you to be fit to live long enough to see them grow up.) Then he or she would workout and put the said amount in.
Then the process continues until enough money is earned for you to splurge on a spa treatment, add to your vacation fund, or donate to charity.
CU's and banks' websites that link to their respective wellness sites are those jars. If you are a member of one of those, you'd log in, link your fitness tracker (or just manually type your steps in or even log your workouts), and then redeem your weekly or daily steps for money.
Make sure to bookmark it on your PC or smartphone (some sites have apps that you can prominently place on your smartphone or tablet to keep you accountable).
Plant a community garden together.
A lot of less walkable communities are often food deserts (where grocery stores are located far away) and food swamps (where there are lots of stores and restaurants that lack fresh produce). Get your fellow neighbors, co-workers, and other community members to plant a fruit/vegetable garden.
Gardening takes about 80 steps a minute. Devote an hour of doing it to give food desert/swamp denizens affordable and easy access to nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables and you'll easily get 4800. That's nearly half of the 10K goal! Devote another and you're closer to that than you think - 9600 steps.
Have the town do it together - they'll reap the benefits of eating affordable produce and the added steps to their days.
Help people by donating steps.
Be it from a church, an autism awareness organization, or even a music program from your school, a charity walk is the best way to add more steps. Of course, charity walks don't seem like daily things, but the closest thing to help raise money for a nonprofit organization is converting steps into charity money.
For every number of steps taken, the head donor or company would allot a set amount of money to a given charity or one the participant chooses. As well as there are apps for that purpose, there are opportunities to persuade your kids' schools', churches, and even your workplaces to get active for their cause as well as others.
Organize a walking school bus.
Some school districts make exceptions for school bus service to children who live 1-2 miles from school. Again, some communities lack sidewalks and crosswalks, making commuting to school by foot harder. Not to mention that tricky people are out there to do those children harm. With all those hurdles mentioned, most parents who live in that radius drive their kids to school.
Children need to walk at least 9000 steps a day, and a safer and more efficient way is to host a walking school bus program. It's a supervised method of transportation where at least one adult guides the children from their homes to their school. Some programs allow kids to transfer from adult group to adult group via meeting points, especially if the school radiates 5 miles to each corner of the community.
With the right walking paths and a good adult to children ratio (1-2 per 4-6 kids), a walking school bus is a good way to keep children, as well as other adults in your community (you included) active.
Persuade your church to have a dance party.
If the clergy allows, feel free to egg the ministry leaders to have a dance party after Sunday services (perhaps except Lent and Holy Week) in place of or in addition to the usual coffee (and donut) socials. All the staff needs is a space to dance; good clean music from a stereo system; and lots of smiles from the congregation who wants to expend their bottled energy from sitting in the pews so long (especially the kids).
This idea stems from the Catalans. That race from Northeastern Spain (Here's looking at you, Barcelona.) are masters of letting the energy loose from fidgety worshipers. Usually after church a small wind band called a cobla would sit on the steps of the edifice or wherever else they can be seen and heard and play music.
Some people who got out of church don't just stop to listen. They'd hold hands in a circle and dance intricate steps. The dance is called the sardana, and Catalans see it as a symbol of unity and pride, alongside the interesting way to add steps to their day.
Churches can take a cue from the Catalans. While there's neither a need to hire a live band nor teach them complicated steps, all they need is a good stereo system and a good time.
Show this video to your church - maybe that would persuade them to do an after-service dance party!
It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes each and every one of you to motivate a village to get 10000 daily steps as a whole.Just imagine the rates of heart disease, cancer, and stroke, to name a few, decrease when you do. With lots of incentives and physical activities that are disguised as fun ones, making the whole town walk that much per day never has been much easier!
So do what you can to get that 10K/day. Never stop parking further from your workplace. Never stop using the stairs instead of the elevator. Never stop getting a 30-60 minute walk. But don't forget to seek out ways for your fellow residents in your neighborhood, city, or town to do the same!
How many steps do you take per day?
©2015 Tiffany J. L. Alfonso