When I was a teenager and asked for a ride somewhere, my dad would frequently say: “Hey, maybe you should take a ride on the Shoe Leather Express…” Some might think this remark was just a sarcastic way of telling me that he wasn’t my chauffeur, but actually, he was wise and knew that walking was the best and easiest mode of transportation with the added benefit of physical fitness.
Here in Mt. Lebanon, we are extremely lucky to be a part of a walking community. Walking is not only the cheapest form of transport but it’s easy and leads to more social interaction, physical fitness and an increased sense of wellness.
If you take the Shoe Leather Express from your house, you can likely get to just about anywhere you need within 30 to 45 minutes. Feeling like seeing a movie? Walk down Washington Road to the Galleria (yup, there are sidewalks the whole way there!) Ready for a casual, family or fancy dinner? There is something for every dining style within the municipal limits! Craving sweets? Bakeries and ice cream shops abound! Heading Downtown or to the mall? Take a walk to the T and jump on for a quick ride. There is no reason why your car needs to leave your garage or carefully selected parking spot. Goodbye frequent (and expensive) gasoline fill ups!
When you walk through your community, you will likely run into neighbors and friends. There is much to be said for the good feelings you experience when you spend time, even briefly, among people you know. The biochemical carrier of the benefits of social support is scientifically speaking called neuropeptide oxytocin but let’s just call it “Happiness” for short. You want to be happy? Get out and walk!
If you are looking for some physical fitness benefits, please note that a good walk can help shape and strengthen your legs. It won’t take long to notice an increase in the definition of your calves, quads, hamstrings and glutes, especially if your trip includes hills (not too hard to do here, right?). In addition, regular walking has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by lowering your levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and increasing your levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.
Are you lacking energy? It might seem inconsistent to exercise when your body wants to lay around watching Netflix but a brisk walk will give you the zing that you are craving. Getting your heart rate up during a walk will increase your circulation and increase the oxygen supply to each and every cell in your body which helps you to feel more alive!
Do yourself a favor and take the Shoe Leather Express more often. The benefits you will see from this will make you glad you did.