Cover image for A walking life : reclaiming our health and our freedom one step at a time
Title:
A walking life : reclaiming our health and our freedom one step at a time
ISBN:
9780738220161
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
ix, 259 pages ; 24 cm.
Contents:
Toddle -- March -- Stumble -- Lurch -- Quest -- Stride -- Pace -- Meander.
Summary:
Driven by a combination of a car-centric culture and a thirst for productivity and efficiency, we're spending more time sedentary and alone than we ever have before. If bipedal walking is truly what makes our species human, what does it mean that we are designing walking right out of our lives? Malchik sees the loss of walking as an individual and a community act has the potential to destroy our deepest spiritual connections, our democratic society, our neighborhoods, and our freedom. She shows that walking is essential, that our brains and bodies are reliant on this simple pedestrian act-- and that we can reclaim it. --
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Summary

Summary

For readers of On Trails , this is an incisive, utterly engaging exploration of walking: how it is fundamental to our being human, how we've designed it out of our lives, and how it is essential that we reembrace it.
"I'm going for a walk." How often has this phrase been uttered by someone with a heart full of anger or sorrow? Or as an invitation, a precursor to a declaration of love? Our species and its predecessors have been bipedal walkers for at least six million years; by now, we take this seemingly arbitrary motion for granted. Yet how many of us still really walk in our everyday lives?
Driven by a combination of a car-centric culture and an insatiable thirst for productivity and efficiency, we're spending more time sedentary and alone than we ever have before. If bipedal walking is truly what makes our species human, as paleoanthropologists claim, what does it mean that we are designing walking right out of our lives? Antonia Malchik asks essential questions at the center of humanity's evolution and social structures: Who gets to walk, and where? How did we lose the right to walk, and what implications does that have for the strength of our communities, the future of democracy, and the pervasive loneliness of individual lives?
The loss of walking as an individual and a community act has the potential to destroy our deepest spiritual connections, our democratic society, our neighborhoods, and our freedom. But we can change the course of our mobility. And we need to. Delving into a wealth of science, history, and anecdote -- from our deepest origins as hominins to our first steps as babies, to universal design and social infrastructure, A Walking Life shows exactly how walking is essential, how deeply reliant our brains and bodies are on this simple pedestrian act -- and how we can reclaim it.


Author Notes

Antonia Malchik has written essays and articles for Aeon , the Atlantic , High Country News , BuzzFeed Ideas, Orion , and a variety of other publications. Formerly, she worked as a journalist in Austria and Australia. She lives in northwest Montana with her family.


Reviews 3

Kirkus Review

Walking is good for youand for the rest of us, in different ways than you might expect.A travel writer who now lives in her native Montana after decades of more urban life, Malchik hasn't simply written a self-help book on the physical and psychological benefits of walking, though there is plenty of that here. The author also delivers a manifesto that involves urban planning, technology, political protest, the environment, and the future of the planet. Humans were not only designed to walk, she writes; they are all but defined by their bipedal nature (Malchik does address those who have been immobilized and devotes a chapter to how society can serve them better). A century or so ago, with the emergence of the automobile, communities designed for pedestrian activity were still the norm, and it was the responsibility of the driver to steer clear of walkers. Now the walker is the anomaly, the exception. "Jaywalking is a recently invented term, a recently invented idea," writes the author, devoting seven pages to the etymology of the term and its social history and reporting that more than 5,000 pedestrians are killed each year by drivers. "The idea of jaywalking is nonsensical," she argues. "With or without roads, pedestrians have always had the first right to public space. Walking is how humans get places; denying us this access makes no sense." She also explores the ramifications of refugees walking hundreds of miles for asylum, protestors mobilizing in the thousands for political action, and pilgrims undertaking long journeys by foot for spiritual reasons. (She finds walking meditation more beneficial than sitting meditation.) If we walked more often, we'd feel better, think more creatively, suffer less depression, have more connections as a community, breathe cleaner air, and have a more profound understanding of our place on the planet.Though it may be too late to turn back the clock on cars (Malchik owns one), she makes a convincing plea for better balance. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

For many people, a typical day includes getting in a car, driving to work, sitting at a desk for eight hours, driving home, and then lounging on the couch. We are bound to our desks and chairs, but perhaps most detrimental of all, we are bound to our vehicles. Unless you are lucky enough to live in a city with extensive public transportation and walkable distances, a car is essential. This reality is impacting our health and is also limiting our freedom. Journalist Malchik briefly discusses how humans evolved into a bipedal species before delving into stories that revolve around walking. From walking as a form of protest, to walking across borders to escape conflict, Malchik reconnects readers to the pleasure and privilege of putting one foot in front of the other. Although the narrative is repetitive at times, the overall message is eye-opening, revealing the somber reality of our car-centric world but also inspiring a desire to reconnect with our primeval desire to wander on our own two feet.--Patricia Smith Copyright 2019 Booklist


Library Journal Review

Journalist Malchik (-Washington Post) takes a look at the disappearance of walking in everyday life. Combining science and history, the author argues that the loss of walking destroys our community and our freedom, providing an examination of how the United States has lost its pedestrian roots. As the automobile gained in popularity, pedestrians were evicted from public roads. Walking has many roles in life, says Malchik, in health, spirituality, and the structure of communities. She argues that many do not know the basic experience of getting to places on foot; only 13 percent of American children walk or bike to school. A fascinating chapter on walking as social capital is especially noteworthy, pointing out how obstructing traffic may be the only option when exercising the right to assemble. VERDICT Readers interested in green living and libraries that support ecology and urban studies programs will want this far-reaching book about how to maintain a -sustainable lifestyle.-Susan -Belsky, Oshkosh P.L., WI © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

The First Stepp. 1
1 Toddlep. 13
2 Marchp. 39
3 Stumblep. 67
4 Lurchp. 97
5 Questp. 123
6 Stridep. 151
7 Pacep. 177
8 Meanderp. 199
Invitationp. 225
Acknowledgmentsp. 231
Referencesp. 235
About the Authorp. 261