Exercise your brain: walk the Pumpkinvine

friendsPumpkinvine News

Dogs love the PV, too.

It will soon be spring and time to be outdoors more. When you do, think about the benefits of walking daily.

Recently, I started taking a 15-minute walk at noon around the neighborhood where I work. As a result I found that I was noticeably more alert and productive in the afternoon.
What I discovered about the benefits of walking was the subject of the cover story of the March 26, 2007 issue of Newsweek. It reports that scientists are making the case for a direct connection between exercise and physical and mental well being. We’ve know for years about the physical benefits of exercise, but the mental well being is something new.
Under the headline, “Exercise and the Brain” is the subhead: “We know that working out is good for the body. But now research says it also makes us smarter – and may help fight breast cancer and Alzheimer’s.”
Well, I can’t claim a leap in I.Q. because of walking 15 minutes at for the lunch hour, but I can tell a difference in my productivity.
These articles, and many others, point out that walking is one of the best ways to get exercise because you can do it in short bursts any time of the day.
            “Walking is often underrated as a form of exercise, but it is something nearly everyone can do,” one article says. “All you need is decent shoes; no workout gear or showering afterward is required. Walking slowly burns about five calories per minute, walking briskly burns seven calories per minute and jogging burns roughly nine calories per minute” (Newsweek, March 26, 2007, p. 63).
Walking has many benefits. 
§  It lowers your blood pressure
§  It reduces levels of bad cholesterol
§  It enhances stamina and energy
§  It is easy on your joints, i.e., doesn’t abuse your knees like jogging.
§  It can be done at all ages.
§  It doesn’t require any special skills or training.
§  It can be done anywhere there’s open space.
§  It strengthens bones and raises the heart rate.
§  And now scientists say it might make you smarter.
Naturally, I think the Pumpkinvine is an ideal place to walk and enjoy these benefits. Many of you agree with me. When I walk or ride on the trail, I estimate that two thirds of the people I see are walkers or joggers and one third cyclists. (According to a survey[1] done in September and October 2000, walkers make up about 38 percent of the users on the Goshen section, joggers 20 percent and cyclists 40 percent.)
If walking on the Pumpkinvine isn’t possible, be creative and walk during the day or around your neighborhood in the evening.
Walking with others is also fun. That’s another incentive: join us for a walk on the Pumpkinvine on National Trails Day, June 2. An article in this issue gives the details of the walk. It will be good exercise and give you a better idea of the potential of using the Pumpkinvine corridor in Middlebury for walking your way to health.
(Another version of this note was published in the April 2007 Friends newsletter)

[1] The study was done by the Eppley Institute for Parks & Public Lands School of Health, Physical Ed. & Recreation, Indiana University Bloomington and the Center for Urban Policy & the Environment School of Public & Environmental Affairs Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.