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Neighborhood Walk
Photo: Studiomill
Many feel we have lost our sense of community today. Too many live lives isolated from their neighbors. Often suburbs are pointed out as a cause. People live far from where they work, and do not interact with their neighbors when they get home.

I have a solution which builds community and improves your health. Take a walk. Seriously. Take a daily walk in your neighborhood.

Walking is great exercise. It requires no fancy equipment. It is easier on your joints than running. It relieves stress and relaxes you. It also exercises muscles and your heart (without over-stressing it), and offers an opportunity to get your daily dose of Vitamin D. I try to walk one to two miles in my neighborhood every day.

I started walking on doctor’s orders. He felt I needed more exercise to relieve my hypertension. I started walking every night after eating dinner.

I am a bit of an introvert. I had moved to the neighborhood the year before. Except for the folks next door and directly across the street I knew no one else in my neighborhood, even after a year.

I Nodded or Waved

That started changing after I started walking. Not immediately, but over time. As I walked I passed neighbors doing yard work, collecting their evening mail, or just out in the yard, enjoying the evening. I nodded or waved as I passed. They waved back. Nothing major, just mutual acknowledgment of each other’s presence.

I worked the walk up to two miles a day, and kept it up – rain or shine. I had a dog that wanted her evening walk. She was untroubled about getting wet. Eventually I became a presence, a routine event.

I did not realize how expected I had become until I missed a few days due to a business trip. On my next walk, some neighbors asked if I been ill or on vacation. Their questions were not unfriendly. They were concerned. After that, the waves began evolving into conversations. My neighbors were no longer strangers.

Eventually, my dog died from old age. A few months later, at a grocery store, someone came up and asked if something had happened to my dog. It was one of my neighbors, and she noticed the dog’s absence. It was nice that she cared.

There are other walkers in my neighborhood. Just as my neighbors noticed me when I passed them, and became friends, I greeted the other walkers and became friends with them.

What does it take to build a community? Sometimes it only takes a daily walk. It is good for you – not just for your body, but for your spirit, too.

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By Mark N. Lardas Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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