Nature Bulletin No. 570-A June 7, 1975
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
George W. Dunne, President
Roland F. Eisenbeis, Supt. of Conservation
One of the most momentous lessons in life is when we first learn to
walk. Then a child ceases to be a crawling baby, utterly dependent upon
someone older, and becomes able to toddle toward what it wants.
A child is fortunate if it has a father or a grandfather who will teach the
youngster how to walk properly: not with feet turned outward like a
waddling duck, but with toes pointed straight ahead, like a fox -- or
slightly inward, like an Indian -- and with a gripping spring from the
toes after the heel and ball of each foot, lightly and almost
simultaneously, have touched the ground. With the body relaxed and
arms swinging freely, such a stride enables a person to walk long
distances with a minimum of fatigue.
A child is doubly fortunate if that parent loves the out-of-doors, has a
feeling of kinship with the soil, is familiar with the trees and smaller
plants, knows the secret of wild creatures, and whose pathless ways of
walking might be described by Arthur Sidgwick's verse.
us the path that twists at will,
Through wood and field and up the hil.
Then there will always be new things to see, bits of nature lore to
treasure, and walking becomes one of the most rewarding pleasures in
George Macaulay Trevelyan's essay on walking begins with: "I have
two doctors, my left leg and my right. When mind and body are out of
gear . . . I know that I shall have only to call in my two doctors and I
shall be well again. " Physicians agree with him. They say that what a
business or professional person, a "white collar" worker, a teacher or a
student, needs at the end of a hard day -- when he or she feels tense,
nervous or irritable -- is not a stimulant nor a tranquilizer pill but a brisk
walk of two or three miles.
Walking in the fresh air, with legs and arms swinging freely, is one of
the finest and most beneficial forms of general exercise. It pumps
oxygen into the body and, in addition to purely physical benefits,
rewards the walker with a sense of well-being and peace of mind.
Further, it is known now that walking not only prevents certain kinds of
heart ailments but can cure them. An eminent specialist, in a recent
book, recommends daily walks only two or three blocks in length at
first but gradually increased until they cover, without undue fatigue,
four or five miles.
We people in Cook County are extraordinarily fortunate in having more
than 64,000 acres of publicly owned land, the forest preserves, so easily
accessible and in which we may walk or wander at will. Most of it is
unspoiled native landscape; much of it is densely wooded. There are
175 miles of improved trails that follow the streams or wind through the
hills and bring the walker to many places of scenic, biological or
those who like to saunter along the trails or across country, and the
lusty hikers, there are illustrated folders -- free of charge -- one for each
of the nine divisions of the District. Each features a map of that
division showing the trails, picnic areas, points of interest and other
things you may enjoy.
Walking is the best and cheapest form of recreation.
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Update: June 2012