Case Studies

100 Years of Walking – Benefits of Walking

File_001This article is part of a larger series of interviews with Mr. Donald Bean. For the full series, click here.

The benefits of walking for Mr. Bean extend far beyond the long lasting connection to his family and into overall personal and community wellness. The advantages he finds when he takes those steps are ones found by many who walk on a regular basis.

Mr. Bean speculates that setting a regular practice of walking has been beneficial to him both physically and mentally. “You walk today so that you can walk tomorrow and if you skip it today you may begin skipping it,” he explains. He feels noticeably different on the days when he skips a walk due to bad weather. Recognizing that the power of walking extends past the point of physical health, he says that when he walks quietly and thinks about things that concern him he is often able to solve problems. He says that he feels he missed something when he chooses not to walk or can’t get out and walk and gives himself credit for each day he gets out to walk.

Mr. Bean enjoys the benefits walking brings to him as an individual, but also the benefits it can bring to a community. He ventures that if more people walk there would be fewer cars and more bicycles and pedestrians. He personally has observed an increase in bikes in Philadelphia in recent years. This goes hand in hand with the dedicated bike lanes painted green throughout his community, speaking to the importance of making sure neighborhoods are structured with the built environment that supports physical activity. .

On most days Mr. Bean and his aide Paula walk a common route through the neighborhood. Their route is one with fewer intersections that they both find comfortable to walk. The part of the city they walk is free of the heavy traffic of places like City Center and is safe and attractive. There are small shops, houses, apartments, churches, schools, and plenty of sidewalks. Over time walking this route, Mr. Bean has met other members of his community and is able to spend some time chatting with those whom he sees often, adding a social aspect to his peaceful walks.

Sometimes, like the day prior to when I met them, they change their route and walk to an appointment or a meeting in a different part of town. On these longer walks, they see different places and different people and are sometimes out for well beyond their normal 40 minutes. Mr. Bean jokes that he is responsible for them both being in such good shape. Paula laughs but surely doesn’t disagree, just as we can’t disagree with the benefits walking brings to Mr. Bean and his community.

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