By Sasha Oelsner
Published: Monday, October 9, 2023
Often when people think of exercise, they think of puffing away on a treadmill or lifting weights until their muscles give out.
We forget walking is a great choice, and an option many of us take for granted every day. Studies have shown that walking can reduce the risk of illness, such as heart disease and diabetes, and it’s low impact so a great activity for those with painful joints. On top of that, it’s fantastic opportunity to reap the benefits of “green” exercise – fresh air, blue sky and being in nature. Not only that – it’s good for the environment. Now with milder weather and sunnier days, October is the perfect month to Step into Spring.
Here at RAA, we’ve been thinking about South Australians walking habits. Could they be walking more? Do they have safety concerns? Are the footpaths not up to standard?
RAA’s Senior Traffic Engineer Matthew Vertudaches wants to know what’s stopping you from walking?
“Pedestrians are vulnerable road users,” he says. “We’re looking for people to nominate locations where walking can be difficult or dangerous, such as uneven or missing paths, or unsafe road crossings.
“We often receive feedback from our members about the poor condition or lack of pavements, and so by taking our survey it will allow us to advocate for safer and better connected walking conditions.”
Let us know your thoughts in our Risky Walks survey, created in conjunction with Walking SA. The survey closes Tuesday 7 November and by having your say, you go in the draw to win one of three $50 gift cards.
Executive Director of Walking SA Sharon Kelsey understands the value of walking regularly.
“We experience significant health, social and wellbeing benefits when we walk,” Sharon says.
“Walking is a major preventor of many chronic diseases, and when we walk, we give our mind time to relax, our body time to move and we give ourselves an opportunity to connect with ourselves, our environment, and other people.
“We might start walking because the doctor tells us to, but we should keep walking because we can actively feel and see the many benefits it brings.”
Not only is it good for your body, but walking is also good for the environment because you are creating zero carbon emissions. Your hip pocket will thank you too, as you’ll be able to save on typical transport costs.
Why aren’t we walking?
Promisingly, almost 90% of South Australians are already walking daily. However, with 60% of South Australians regularly driving to work, less than half of us are walking enough to reap the benefits.
“Walking needs to entice us from the car and onto our feet,” Sharon says.
“To do that, we need to have a safe and convenient network of amenable walking routes that provide efficient means to get to the locations we need, as well as links to a reliable public transport system.”
Getting some extra steps into your day could be as simple as parking a little further away from your destination, getting off public transport a stop earlier, or going for a wander in your lunch break at home or at the office – you never know what you’ll discover.
Where can we walk?
While you can make a difference to your wellbeing by simply stepping out your front door and following your nose, there’s also a huge range of curated walks and dedicated walking paths across the state.
Walking SA has hundreds of listed walks – 786 to be exact – and there are trails to suit all ages and abilities.
Sharon has a few favourites. “If I’m heading into the city, I like to take the Torrens River Linear Trail, or for something special I do the Pioneer Women’s Trail from Hahndorf to Beaumont,” Sharon says.
“If I really want to replenish myself, I hop onto the Walking SA website and find where some of our clubs are walking. If it’s somewhere I haven’t walked before, then I can enjoy seeing another part of our great state – and that becomes my new favourite walk.”
Now it’s your turn
South Australians, let us know, where, why and how you’re walking, and what barriers may be stopping you from pounding the pavement.