Q4 Fitness Urban Walking

My husband and I chose Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri for a recent walk because it offered something for both of us: running paths for me and a museum for him.

The park is the original site of the 1904 World’s Fair and a gem in the midst of the city. Nearly 1,300 acres, it has a tennis court, golf course, three lakes, miles of paths for walking and cycling and plenty of open space for activities. It’s also home to five cultural institutions, including the St. Louis Zoo and Missouri History Museum, which is where my husband wanted to go.

If you’re going to do an urban walk, you can meander on your own, going in whichever direction you fancy. Or you can check out the GPSmyCity app, which gives you options for self-guided walking tours in thousands of cities around the world. I thought it would be fun to check out the app — but it’s a bit misleading. To get turn-by-turn walking directions, you need to purchase the upgrade for about $5; otherwise, you only get a list of points of interest. I went ahead and bought the upgrade because I wanted to see how well it worked.

According to the app, the route was three hours. It only took us little over two hours, so it must have built in time to pause at various sites along the way. Along the way, I got familiar with the various running paths.

The second walk we took was in my town. This time, we skipped the city’s tour app and used a map from the local visitor’s bureau to take a self-guided tour. We strolled the downtown area and several other streets that fanned out in about a half-mile radius. A few blocks away, the city erected statues of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, the two had debated in the town in 1858.

The next time you decide to go for a walk, take a closer look at your own town. Delve a little bit into its history or seek out a new area to explore. See it through the eyes of a newcomer and you just might discover something new.

What are the benefits?

Walking provides many benefits. It can help you maintain a healthy weight, prevent or manage conditions such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and since it’s a weight-bearing exercise, it strengthens your bones.

Is this right for me?

Walking works for just about everyone. You can power walk or meander along. Either way, moving your body is always an extremely good thing: Move it or lose it.

How much will it cost me?

Minimal cost. You probably have the shoes you need in your closet. The app mentioned above does cost money if you’re interested in following the pre-programmed route.

What equipment do I need?

Comfortable shoes are a must. Definitely no heels and if you need arch support when you walk any length of time, ditch the flip-flops – opt for tennis shoes or other soft-soled shoes. My husband brought his walking stick to support his bad knee. It’s always smart to have your phone handy for emergencies and to take the requisite selfie or to document interesting views. And if it’s cooler weather, wear layers – you’ll warm up as you get active.

Where do I go?

Whether your town is small or your city is large, you can always find new areas to explore. Stop by your local visitor’s center or go online for information on city tours, guided apps and other info to make your city walking tour just right for you.

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