It’s 8 p.m. here in Kigali. I am indulging in a tour of the Central Business District (CBD). I rarely come to the CBD because, thanks to online services, I don’t have to run errands anymore. Tonight, I am not touring the city aboard the Kigali City Tour’s sightseeing bus. I am wandering up and down the streets of Kigali on foot. In other words, I am walking.
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.
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. 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. 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.
Walking is healthy and environmentally friendly. Moreover, strolling around enables me to observe and absorb more. Walking tours are also ideal for tourists who wish to feel the vibe of their host communities and capture their spirit.
The author is visiting all 30 districts of Rwanda. His tour of Nyarugenge is sponsored by Ikaze Rwanda Tours & Travel, Elimo Real Estate Ltd and Exposure. Follow him on Twitter @GeoExposure.