Residents of Burbage Grant in northern Suffolk have a new reason to be active, healthy and friendly with their neighbors.
With the resurfaced and widened sidewalk that stretches from Burbage Lake to Burbage Landing, residents and their families and friends can enjoy outdoor biking, running, jogging and walking with their dogs.
As one of the homeowners in this community, I frequently enjoy walking around the neighborhood along this sidewalk, especially when the weather is mild and sunny. Trying to manage my chronic back pain and fibromyalgia daily, I feel blessed and inspired to get active and stay healthy using this sidewalk to do my simplest form of exercise---walking.
Encountering strangers and meeting new friends can be rewarding while strolling on this sidewalk, which helps encourage a spirit of friendship and neighborliness. i regard this sidewalk not only as a pathway to good healthy but also a link to connect with fellow residents and build community cohesiveness.
You'll be amazed to learn what walking outdoors can do to your health. Judy Wilson, in her January 2014 article on livestrong.com, wrote that walking for 40 minutes to an hour a day can help prevent heart disease and diabetes. Walking can reduce weight, boost healthy cholesterol, ease chronic pain and strengthen bones. It can also help reduce stress, prevent anxiety and depression. Moreover, it can help boost your concentration.
Furthermore, walking outdoors can add vitality to your life, allow you to breathe fresh air, and soak up Vitamin D from the sun. There is also this feeling of grateful appreciation toward the beauty of nature and our environment.
Social interaction in the community is one of the unexpected extra benefits of walking outdoors. Meeting a neighbor or a prospective new friend is something we should not take for granted.
A sincere and genuine greeting and a smile when we meet someone can help change even the worst day. Saying "Good morning!" to one walker or jogger you encounter along the way may even lead you to a meaningful experience that can change your life, or perspective of life.
Since the start of autumn, I have been walking around my neighborhood. Though I did not have many expectations, except to manage my chronic pain, my walks around the neighborhood almost every morning have given me the optimism to keep on being alive and well.
I have come to know fellow residents who are military retired veterans like me. I have been more focused on staying healthy, despite my physical disability. I have come to appreciate more the beauty of nature, my surroundings, and what I have to learn and share and offer to everyone I come to meet.
I have gained insights into what it takes to belong to a community.
For 2015, let's focus on health and on making a difference for others. Our health is our wealth. Doing simple physical conditioning such as walking outdoors, especially when the weather is beautiful and if we're able and capable, undoubtedly enhances our quality of life.
By the way, I have nothing against fitness centers or gyms. They're great for exercise, but using them requires membership fees. Why pay when you can exercise outdoors for free and enjoy the beauty of nature?
Shall we go for a walk? If we're lucky, maybe we'll meet a new friend.
-CHRIS A. QUILPA, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in northern Suffolk. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Sunday, January 4, 2015. For more information, visit www.suffolknewsherald.com.