Long walks once were a staple for anyone interested in going from place to place.
Children walked to school, and adults went on foot to work, the grocery store and other destinations.
As communities spread out and more people found it necessary to drive from place to place, walking as a way of transportation fell out of favor — and with it went one good way to get daily exercise.
Fast forward to today, and the nation now must tackle the troubling fallout of the growing rate of obesity in children and adults.
One effort to encourage people to walk toward better health comes this month in Walk Kansas, a team-based program that focuses on active living and better nutrition choices.
Through Walk Kansas, teams choose from a trio of challenges. They may collectively cover a distance from border to border; the distance to walk across Kansas and back; or, an even longer trek around the perimeter of the state. Details on this year's program running March 17 through May 11 are available at walkkansas.org.
Workplaces in particular have cause to encourage their employees to participate in such wellness initiatives. When it comes to walking, a brisk 30 minutes a day can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and other ailments. Healthy employees are more productive, so getting them to walk makes good business sense.
At the same time, communities also can help pave the way to better health.
Local initiatives to make Garden City more walker-friendly have included new and improved sidewalks. City officials also have worked with the public on plans for the growth of "pedestrian connections" in trails and sidewalks.
While Garden City is on the right path, it will take years and serious commitment to create the most pedestrian-friendly community possible. Such features make cities all the more appealing as a place to live and work.
Of course, it's not necessary to wait on new walkways or even the annual Walk Kansas campaign to take strides in the right direction. Start today by pursuing a good walk when and where you can to move toward a longer, healthier life.