Why City Dwellers Walk More

Recent studies have show that the average daily steps made by urbanites (residents of large urban cities, within the city core) are much higher than those of us who live in the suburbs and countryside.


How come?

 One New York Times series highlighted the daily lifestyle of many New Yorkers. Simply getting to work was one of the biggest reasons for all the steps. In fact, this series led to another trendy nickname for New York City; the city of 10,000 steps.

While many Americans strive to reach a daily goal of 10,000 steps (as encouraged by many workplace healthcare programs), many New Yorkers can easily arrive at that goal just through their daily commute. Whether its getting through the steps in a transit station, or finding a bus, or simply walking to a lunch spot, residents in this city find waking is a necessity, even on days they don't want to.

New Yorkers are known for their high-paced lifestyle. What is a secret, is that many of them are naturally fit. Living in the Big Apple has its dissadvantages. but one big advantage is the need to walk everywhere. 

 Internationally, Hong Kong is similar to New York, with dense crowded streets and a highly urbanized city layout. It as well ranked #1 in one survey for the most daily steps taken of any international country.


What about other major U.S. urban cities? 



San Francisco? It contains some of the most walkable neighborhoods in the country, as reported by Walkscore.com. Combine this with the hills, and you definitely have a daily workout built into your commuting lifestyle.


Philadelphia? The historic sections of the city retain the walkable nature of older American cities built before the automobile-era. Living and working in this city can lead to natural daily exercise habits.


There are famously highly walkable sections of Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Boston, and Washington D.C. Yet even suburban-sprawl cities like Phoenix, Houston, and Los Angeles have walkable neighborhoods that offer a lifestyle of walking and fitness to work.


What if I don't live in the "big city?"

Suburban dwellers have one advantage, being closer to natural recreation. Getting outside the city is as simple as driving a few miles away. Yet the drive itself reduces walking.

But if you live in downtown, you have no choice but to walk . . . to the store, to the car, to public transportation.

Walkable cities are becoming more desirable for new generations to live in. Yet, even some senior citizens ore choosing to sell their home in the suburbs for living in a more walkable neighborhood. Within walking distance to stores, cafes, and points of interest.

 How can I start in the suburbs?


Harvard Men's Health Watch,  mentions: "as a rule of thumb, urban walkers can count 12 average city blocks as one mile."  If you live in a suburban area, those "blocks" may be half that amount in some newer neighborhoods.

  • Consider choosing to park your car further from work
  • Pick one day a week to walk to the store or local cafe.
  • Then move up the frequency from there.
  • Resist the temptation to get into the car for every single errand.
  • And by all means, leave your car parked when walking between stores in the same shopping area. 

If you experience foot and leg pain, consider trekking poles designed for walking. They add support, while giving you extra confidence to make small daily walks. And definitely wear higher-ankle-supporting shoes. It will reduce some of the stress off of your foot muscles leading to less "walker's pain".

You may find that the easiest way to increase your steps is to make a daily habit of visiting the nearest park.


- Mike Cutler is a hiking blogger and product tester for EarthTrek Gear. His family lives in Reno, Nevada near California's Sierra mountains. He enjoys global travel and exploring hidden trails.

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