While visiting Kigali, Ibrahim from Morocco decided to explore the city on foot. Walking enabled him to observe and absorb more. He fell in love with Kigali’s pedestrian-friendly roads and applauded the new master plan.
Around the world, walking tours are becoming more and more popular. As they walk up and down, tourists feel the heartbeats of their host cities. Walking can be done in an unfamiliar city without a guide. In this age of advanced technology, numerous applications and GPS navigation functions are available at our fingertips. Some of them work offline. They don’t require any data plan.
Gone are the days when our urban planners used to design roads without putting pedestrians into consideration. Old roads constructed without sideways are being phased out. We can finally walk comfortably anywhere in the city at any time, thanks to the widespread installation of street lights and assuring security.
Kigali’s quest to tarmac every street is accelerated by residents who walk the talk by chipping in their own contributions. This partnership has seen more and more residential areas getting rid of old dusty roads.
Building footpaths is encouraging inhabitants of the city and their esteemed guests to walk more. The process of creating a conducive walking and cycling environment is in full swing. The newest roads have designated cycling lanes too.
The stretch between Centenary House and Ecole Belge was declared car-free in 2015 and car-free days introduced a year later have become celebrated events. City officials have been quoted repeatedly preaching the health and environmental benefits of green transport.
Credible studies have revealed the impact of regular walking in reducing the risk of succumbing to diabetes, heart attack and stroke. Walking is also an effective weapon in the fight against obesity, high cholesterol levels, blood clots and constipation. Additional studies acknowledge its effectiveness in the prevention of age-related dementia. On top of all that, the oldest form of exercising improves memory and combats the deterioration of brain tissues caused by old age. This simple but highly rewarding activity can be done by old people without stressing their delicate joints.
According to Brian Fulton, a renowned physiotherapist, our ancestors benefited tremendously when they started walking upright. They did a lot of walking and enjoyed sound health. Then came the industrial age and its ensuing revolution. Automobiles were invented and jobs that make us sit down all day were created. This new lifestyle is to blame for increased cases of soft tissue disorders and a plethora of other complications.
Another study conducted by the University of Stanford shows that regular walking increases our creative output by 60%. Researchers call this kind of creativity divergent thinking. Walking stimulates a free flow of ideas. Engaging in activities that allow our minds to wander empowers our innovative acumen.
I love jogging on those pavements and I am not the only one. Some of my friends don’t need gym memberships anymore because their roads have been upgraded. Running is more physically demanding but according to Dr. Matt Tanneberg, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, walking is as effective, if not more effective than running. I have tried both and roasted more calories while running but obviously, walking can serve others better depending on several factors including age, level of fitness and specific goals.
Those roadside pavements are there for a reason. One day your doctor will advise you to use them instead of sending you to the pharmacy. Don’t wait until that day comes.