Have you gotten up and on your feet at work today? Many in the downtown Buffalo area who did took part in National Walk at Lunch Day. WBFO’s Avery Schneider joined them for a stroll.
Walking is one of the most important, beneficial, and simple exercises anyone can do, and it was celebrated during the noon hour across the country and in downtown Buffalo.
The afternoon began with a wellness fair in the lobby of the Buffalo News building, where Jesse Ladoue, Corporate Relations Director of the American Heart Association, handed out red shoelaces to those taking part in National Walk at Lunch Day. Ladoue said it’s important to infuse activities like walking into the workplace, because as employees continue to work longer hours, many are doing so in environments that can be detrimental to their health.
“We know your brain has to re-charge throughout the day and your body needs to re-charge as well,” said Ladoue. “So taking those periodic breaks every 90 minutes or so – just taking a break to stand up, stretch your legs, maybe get a healthy snack – is so vital for the productivity of your employee workforce.”
Phil Haberstro normally serves as Executive Director of the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo. On Wednesday afternoon, he served as co-tour guide for a group of over 75 walkers on a path through the Canalsside area, along with Refresh Editor Scott Scanlon of the Buffalo News.
A strong advocate of holistic health – Haberstro calls walking the “grand slam” of physical activity.
“There are economic benefits. We know that people that are physically active have less unnecessary use of the sickness care system. There’s social benefits. You can build social capital, you can meet new friends, make new relationships. There’s environmental benefits. If you choose to walk some place instead of driving, obviously that benefits the environment,” said Haberstro.
The fourth benefit is human – with walking providing an aid to help fight off disease and inspire creativity.
Part of the contingent of lunch-time walkers was a group of more than 35 staff members from the offices of Erie County. Public Health Educator Kelly Fletcher the county's Department of Health helped guide them, stressing the importance of exercise.
“Adults need about 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week,” said Fletcher. “So doing that in bouts of 20 to 30 minutes, five to seven days a week, helps them to achieve that. And walking’s one of the easiest, safest ways to achieve physical activity.”
Fletcher said the county is doing a lot with employee wellness programs, and Wednesday’s walk was a part of getting staff members motivated and out of the office.
Also among the many walkers was retiree Arlene Jacobs, who walks three to four days a week. But as she strolled through the Canalside area, Jacobs said she doesn’t think enough people in the community do the same.
“Maybe walking to a store or to their car. But to do a regiment walk? No.”
Thinking about the walkability of the Buffalo area, Jacobs said, “Oh yeah, it’s becoming more walking-friendly, especially [downtown].
Jacobs believes there are simple things people can do to increase walking in their daily lives. She recommends every time someone might normally drive a short distance, they take the opportunity to walk instead.
National Walk at Lunch Day also helped kick off the Wellness Institute’s outdoor walking season. The Institute plans to host more guided walks at lunch throughout the downtown area, beginning at the Visit Buffalo Niagara Center on Wednesdays, as well as at Kaminsky Park in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. More information on the guided walks is available at www.healthycommunitynetwork.com.