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Walk Score

30 May 2021
Anonymous

Imagine walking into your doctor’s office and instead of the usual blood draw and blood pressure check, you are asked to walk around the facility and see how long it takes you to complete this simple task.  While this might seem at first a rather odd request, walking speed is actually an invaluable clinical tool and may be on par with more commonplace evaluations for predicting vitality and longevity in populations 65 and older. 

In my last contribution I touched upon how walking (at any speed) can boost your immune system and reduce the chance of cardiovascular disease.  More and more research is now focusing on the outcomes of the rate at which you walk known as gait speed.  New studies suggest that those with better than average gait speed tend to maintain their independence longer and enjoy a higher level of function when compared to their more dawdling counterparts.

The implications of these new findings suggest that where you currently reside will likely have immense impact upon your future health and longevity. Those who reside in areas where walking is discouraged, either through lack of parks and trails or communities designed primarily for the automobile, may inevitably find themselves succumbing to a more sedentary existence. 

One might well argue that although I do not live in a pedestrian friendly environment, I just walk on my treadmill. Personally, I just find climbing on a treadmill day after day to be a rather soul crushing experience and find myself exercising for longer period of time when outdoors exploring new trails. Researchers agree, claiming those who walk outdoors use more muscles due to changing terrains which often include uneven surfaces, steps, and inclines and often exercise for a longer duration.

If you plan on moving or are just curious as to how walkable your community is compared to others, there is a website for that. The site is called WalkScore.com. This site will provide you with a numerical score or rating for walkability anywhere in the United States, Canada or Australia, based upon your proximity to such amenities as banks, shops, transit and groceries.  It is a great tool to use if you are considering relocating or just looking for someplace to go on vacation where you will not be dependent on an automobile. 

The implications of these studies may alter how you design your future exercise routines.  Is your goal short term gains or long term mobility?  In short, will the exercise routine you are doing today have a negative impact on your mobility tomorrow? Are you giving your body enough time to recover between exercise bouts or are you just beating your body down in some delusional pursuit of maintaining your youth at the expense of your future self?  If you plan on sticking around for some time, eventually these are questions you will have to ask yourself. Be well. 

Imagine walking into your doctor’s office and instead of the usual blood draw and blood pressure check, you are asked to walk around the facility and see how long it takes you to complete this simple task.  While this might seem at first a rather odd request, walking speed is actually an invaluable clinical tool and may be on par with more commonplace evaluations for predicting vitality and longevity in populations 65 and older. 

In my last contribution I touched upon how walking (at any speed) can boost your immune system and reduce the chance of cardiovascular disease.  More and more research is now focusing on the outcomes of the rate at which you walk known as gait speed.  New studies suggest that those with better than average gait speed tend to maintain their independence longer and enjoy a higher level of function when compared to their more dawdling counterparts.

The implications of these new findings suggest that where you currently reside will likely have immense impact upon your future health and longevity. Those who reside in areas where walking is discouraged, either through lack of parks and trails or communities designed primarily for the automobile, may inevitably find themselves succumbing to a more sedentary existence. 

One might well argue that although I do not live in a pedestrian friendly environment, I just walk on my treadmill. Personally, I just find climbing on a treadmill day after day to be a rather soul crushing experience and find myself exercising for longer period of time when outdoors exploring new trails. Researchers agree, claiming those who walk outdoors use more muscles due to changing terrains which often include uneven surfaces, steps, and inclines and often exercise for a longer duration.

If you plan on moving or are just curious as to how walkable your community is compared to others, there is a website for that. The site is called WalkScore.com. This site will provide you with a numerical score or rating for walkability anywhere in the United States, Canada or Australia, based upon your proximity to such amenities as banks, shops, transit and groceries.  It is a great tool to use if you are considering relocating or just looking for someplace to go on vacation where you will not be dependent on an automobile. 

The implications of these studies may alter how you design your future exercise routines.  Is your goal short term gains or long term mobility?  In short, will the exercise routine you are doing today have a negative impact on your mobility tomorrow? Are you giving your body enough time to recover between exercise bouts or are you just beating your body down in some delusional pursuit of maintaining your youth at the expense of your future self?  If you plan on sticking around for some time, eventually these are questions you will have to ask yourself. Be well. 

bio photo

Lieutenant Michael "Sporty" Kilbane

Michael Kilbane is a retired officer from the Cleveland Fire Department having served for over 35 years.

In that time, he has spearheaded many efforts to advance the betterment of the division through wellness initiatives and grants. He has also authored a pamphlet on maintaining back strength and health for firefighters.  Mr. Kilbane’s education includes an undergraduate degree in both Philosophy and Natural Health, along with master’s level coursework in both Physiology and Philosophy.  He is also a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is recognized through that organization as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. As a trained massotherapist, Mr. Kilbane has also witnessed literally first hand the damage done to first responders by over straining in some of the most hostile work environments. His most recent focus is utilizing kettle bells for functional training and is the author of The Athletes Ultimate Guide to Kettlebell Training.

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