Walking has incredible health benefits for the individual participant but what we may not be thinking about is the communal benefit of a walking culture. A culture of walking is the key to a vibrant community. While walking is a proven strategy for improving heart health and reducing diabetes, walking is critical for the social success of a community. Take the necessary steps to help your community grow.

Step 1. Get up

Walking allows you time to interact with your neighbors. Whether you need to get up from your desk, or step out your front door, the pace and posture of walking naturally makes you more friendly and approachable. As a manager or boss, this gives your employees a more open invitation to get to know you or raise a concern. As a neighbor, this is your opportunity to come into contact in a friendly chance encounter.

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Step 2. Look up

Now that you’re up, look around you. Take the time to say “hello”. You are a part of a larger community, and your smile or friendliness makes a social impact on your surroundings. Simple interactions with co-workers while you are relaxed is fundamental for firm culture. Routine exchanges with neighbors make you a dependable part of the community.

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Step 3. Get involved

At the pace and posture of walking, you are primed to notice smaller signs or changes in your environment. Think pamphlets, not billboards. Did your neighbor lose their pet? Is your coworker looking for a roommate? Now that you are up and active, you can notice the smaller changes in your communal environment.

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Step 4. Be a community advocate

You are the “eyes on the street” from Jane Jacob’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities. This means your presence and observation of your surroundings contributes to the overall safety of the community. You contribute to more than just safety—you transformed from a passive participant to an active participant. Be active. Advocate for your community.

Whether you are walking your dog or making a routine walk through the office, remember that you are part of the community. Your presence, your posture and your pace make you an active contributor to your surroundings.

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About the Author:

Raedun de Alba, AIA, NCARB: I found my passion for walking as an element of place-making and designing cities for people. I am an architect in the metro-DC area and strive to design buildings and environments that are first and foremost for people.