In the nineteenth century it was not uncommon for people to walk up to twenty miles (30+ km) to visit friends and family or to attend a show or spectacle they were interested in. Within just a generation the number of hours spent walking by children has decreased from 1.5 hours to a little over an hour. How many children walk to school in today's world?
Amongst adults too the amount of walking is minimal. For most in the western world the daily average is around 3 to 4 km per day. And remember, this figure includes walking around the home: to and from the bathroom, the kitchen or the car garage. It includes walking out to the post box or to put the rubbish bin out. It is not much.
On the other hand, around one-in-five household car trips in the western world are less than 2km in length, and fully two-thirds are less than 6km in length.
Are we forgetting how to walk?
This forgetting comes at a price.
- The proportion of people who are overweight or obese is surging ever higher.
- Air pollution from motor vehicles contributes to the premature deaths of hundreds of people each year.
- Motor vehicles are a major contributor to atmospheric carbon emissions.
- Interaction between neighbours and communities is limited when we forget how to walk.
- Contact with nature is also reduced by spending our time inside vehicles and not walking.
- One and a quarter million people are killed worldwide each year in road deaths.
“We banged the tins, and bawled the hymnsIs the modern form of the treadmill an improvement on that terror? It is a treadmill, it is not walking.
And sweated on the mill,
But in the heart of every man
Terror was lying still.”
This world is a wonderful place, full of beauty and splendour. What better way to experience it than by walking on a beach, in the bush, along a leafy forest trail, amongst a glade of wild flowers, or in the local park.
Lets do so, before we forget how.