Seven people met outside Newtown Municipal Center to participate in a mile-and-a-half walk along the paths of the Fairfield Hills campus on Wednesday, April 3, as one of the local efforts to recognize the American Heart Association’s National Walking Day.
According to the AHA website, the special day is reserved for the first Wednesday in April and encourages employees to bring their sneakers to work and walk for at least 30 minutes during the day.
The seven stalwarts outside the municipal center endured howling gusts of winds that turned hands cold and cheeks rosy red on the brisk April afternoon. Newtown Director of Health Donna Culbert was one of the intrepid souls who braved strong wind gusts and temperatures in the low 40s.
“It’s the easiest, most accessible, least expensive way to get huge health benefits,” Ms Culbert said.
The AHA lists numerous health benefits of walking on their website, including reducing the chance of coronary heart disease, enhancing mental well-being, and maintaining body weight and lower risk of obesity.
Ms Culbert pointed out that it is important to be mindful of ticks, which can carry diseases such as Lyme disease when walking during the coming warmer months.
“If you walk on trails you should watch for ticks, wear long clothing, and use insect repellant,” Ms Culbert said.
Tax Collector Carol Mahoney said she walks regularly, usually after work or during her break.
“I just feel really good after I walk. It clears my head,” Ms Mahoney said.
School District Health Coordinator Judy Blanchard also praised the effects of walking.
“Walking provides both a mental and physical benefit for me,” said Ms Blanchard.
Joseph Hurley of New Milford was another notable pedestrian who took to the streets to get involved with National Walking Day. Mr Hurley, a former reporter for The News-Times and author of Ten Million Steps on Route 6, had planned a 20-mile walk on a section of Route 6 from Southbury to Danbury, which carried him through Newtown on Wednesday.
Mr Hurley should be very familiar with Route 6, having walked the entire length of the United States along the historic route, which spans from Cape Cod to California. His book chronicled the journey and highlighted interesting people and places he encountered along the trek.
The night before the walk, Mr Hurley was feeling nervous about completing his 20-mile goal.
“I haven’t walked 20 miles in like eight years. I’m not sure I’m going to make it, so we’ll see. I suspect I’ll make it somehow,” Mr Hurley said before adding, “I’m afraid I’ll walk five miles and my feet will hurt or I’ll get sick and everybody will laugh at me.”
Despite his apprehension Mr Hurley still views walking as a worthwhile activity.
“It’s something you don’t need equipment or to join a gym to do; even the if the weather is bad you can walk. It’s really an ideal exercise,” he said.
Mr Hurley is reprising a section of his cross-country hike to promote upcoming appearances in Fairfield, Ridgefield, Danbury and Newtown, where he will be discussing his book and experiences walking Route 6. Mr Hurley will be at C.H. Booth Library, 25 Main Street, at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, April 16. Further information about Mr Hurley and his walk can be found on his website, www.route6walk.com.