Why We Love Volkssporting with the Freestate Happy Wanderers Walking Club and other American Volkssports Association (AVA) clubs

[AVA clubs offers a variety of events, including walking, cycling, swimming, and others … but the large majority are walking events]

1.      Aerobic exercise to strengthen the heart and improve circulation.  Walking is one of the best aerobic exercises for most people.  An exercise science specialist at the Mayo Clinic says that some of the biggest health winners are couch potatoes who transition from being totally sedentary to moderately active walkers.  “If they only had one thing to do, the average person can get a whole lot of benefit out of walking.”  Even Hippocrates, the father of Medicine, called walking “the best medicine” around 400 B.C.

2.      Controls weight, improves body composition.  Per mile, walking burns almost as many calories as jogging.  Increases muscle mass, decreases body fat.  Some people “walk to eat” or “walk so I can have dessert.”

3.      Relieves anxiety and depression.  Lowers stress and improved mood and self-esteem.  Better than medication in some cases.

4.      Improves blood chemistry.  Lowers LDL and raises HDL cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar.

5.      Lowers blood pressure.  Aid to persons with or prone to hypertension.

6.      Aids sleep.  Displace persistent thoughts and worries with memories of a walk.

7.      Not hard on the body.  Compared with other sports activities, walking is relatively easy on joints, ligaments, tendons, and other body parts.  Events are always rated to indicate whether they are strenuous, easy, or somewhere in between.  Usually a short distance option is available at each event.

8.      Participatory sport.  Walking is “my sport.”  Everyone should have a sport, even people who don’t consider themselves athletes.   Have you ever seen professional athletes acting like kids after a score or a win?  It is the same with many adults who participate in volkssports.  All volkssports are non-competitive.

9.      Solvitur ambulando (it is solved by walking).  This phrase, originated by a 4th-Century B.C. Greek philosopher, implies that walking allows us to tap into our creativity, our wisdom, our capacity for wonder, our well-being, and our ability to connect with what we really value.  Over the centuries, many great minds have agreed on the value of walking for sorting out our thoughts, including Hemingway, Thoreau, Jefferson, Nietzche and Jobs.

10.   Fellowship.  Meet and share adventure with fellow volkswalkers.  You’ll have something in common with people from all walks of life, all over the country and around the world.  Fellow walkers often provide greater insight to historical facts or local geography. Everybody is friendlier and more approachable on the trail.  Volkswalking can make a simple walk a richer experience.

11.   Friendship.  Develop lasting friendships with like-minded members by participating with an AVA club.  There are about 300 clubs nationwide, with one or several near you.

12.   Bonding.  Share the activity of walking and learn about each other in conversation with a spouse, significant other, family members, co-workers, neighbors, and old or just-made friends.   You are more likely to finding fellow walkers among these groups than a fellow golfer, racketball player, etc.

13.   Safety and security.  Joining a club is a great way to find walking companions, so you won’t need to walk alone.  Volkswalk directions indicate safest options for crossing streets and avoiding traffic.

14.   Discovery.   Explore scenic places, nearby and far, that you’ve never seen.   So much more to see than just driving around.  Events include routes through music festivals, farmers markets, cherry trees and azaleas in bloom.  It’s a “sensory smorgasbord.”

15.   Solve a “puzzle.”  Although event planners strive to make directions clear and unambiguous, there is often room for different interpretations.  This is sometimes frustrating, but many find that figuring out the directions is part of the fun of volkswalking.

16.   Serendipity.   Volkswalkers often find valuable or agreeable things along the trail that they were not intentionally seeking.  A real random example among just one group of three: Walker A got a recommendation for rental housing from a local resident, Walker B found a vintage Volkswagen show, and Walker C found flowers at a farmer’s market for a gift to take to her mother.

17.   Foreign travel.   Participate in IVV (the international counterpart to AVA) events in dozens of countries.  Several travel vendors offer volkssporting tours.

18.   Activity for (almost) all ages.  Infants in snugsacks, backpacks, strollers or baby joggers … 4-year-olds or 94-year-olds capable of walking 3 to 6 miles.  Volkssporting literally means “sports of the people” or “sports for all.”                                                                            

19.   Activity for persons with disabilities.  Many events are rated as suitable for persons in wheelchairs.

20.    An activity I can do with my dog.  Many events are rated as suitable for leashed pets.  Water dishes for pets at most checkpoints. 

21.    An activity I can do while I’m on travel.  Most major cities and thousands of smaller towns have “self-service” (year round and seasonal) events available, dawn to dusk, most days of the year.  Many events pass through National, state and local parks.  Many volkssporters plan their vacations around scheduled and year-round volkssport events.  There are scheduled and year-round events in all 50 states (and D.C.).

22.    Starting locations often have ample free parking or access to public transportation.  Walks often travel to and from congested areas that are normally difficult to reach by car.

23.    Well researched and pre-tested trails.  You are provided with some combination of turn-by-turn directions, maps, and/or markings on the route.  You can either follow someone else more experienced with volkswalk directions, or enjoy the challenge of figuring out directions on your own.

24.    Event directions often include interesting facts about sights along the trail, favorite eateries, restrooms and water fountains, etc.

25.    A perfect pace for other pursuits.   Take photos of famous landmarks, find an appealing café or ice cream shop, explore a museum, or shop until you drop.

26.     Keep active in inclement weather.  Several events are available in indoor shopping malls, every day of the year.

27.     Maintain a record of your events and/or distances with AVA/IVV Record Books.

28.     Earn recognition of event and distance milestones.  Mail completed record books for certificates of achievement, and distinctive pins and patches.  Your achievements are automatically acknowledged in the national publication “The American Wanderer.”

29.     Challenge yourself with special programs for completing events in all counties, states, and other special milestones (e.g., events with murals, cemeteries, and dozens of others).  Collect state and country bars, if you desire.  Some veteran volkssporters achieve ambitious goals like walking in all 50 states, all state capitals, etc.

30.    Volkssporting is a great value.  Usually $3 per event.  Ask for a New Walker Packet for a great deal while you try volkssporting on for size.

31.    Volkssporting needs little or no special equipment.  Under certain circumstances, the following items are recommended: comfortable walking/hiking shoes, hat, walking stick, long clothes in wooded areas, sunscreen, snacks and water if not provided at checkpoints … that’s about all.

32.   Walking is Maryland’s state exercise.

33.   Most Freestate Happy Wanderer events commemorate a theme or annual observance.  Recent examples: Black History month, Women’s History month, Baseball, health fair, 9/11 remembrance.

Please send suggested additions or changes to dneily333@gmail.com  

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