Counting every step while walking through the Cowboy State in summer

© 2017-Kemmerer Gazette

Is there a better place in the world for a morning walk than a nice path in Wyoming?

Especially quite early in the morning. This time of year, you can actually start walking about 5:30 a.m., but you might need to try a layered approach with a sweatshirt over your t-shirt.

Most Wyoming cities and towns have wonderful walking paths.  Cheyenne has done an amazing job. Greybull has a superb walking path. Sheridan. Lander, Casper and Worland are into providing spaces for walkers. Evanston has transformed itself into a walker’s paradise.

I know a lot of folks in these cities and towns who are dedicated walkers. There are also some dedicated hikers (and there is a difference!).

This column is for people like my wife Nancy and myself. We are a little older than average and, in my case, overweight. My exercise of choice these days is to walk 12,000 steps a day.

Some tips for wanna-be walkers would be to first notice if you have a smartphone in your possession. Among the most amazing technological developments in recent history are modern sensors that really do sense the most miniscule things and do it very accurately. FitBit started doing this about seven years ago.

Technology is built into most smart phones that will tell how you many steps you have taken each day.

For example, I only started keeping track of my steps last fall.  My little device even has a breakdown of what time of day I walked.

But I did not realize that it was keeping track from Day One, when I bought my smartphone. Sad to say I was pretty sedentary back in early 2016 except for Feb. 19, 2016, when I walked 20,689 steps.  Not sure what the heck was going on but it sure was a busy time.

But I digress.

Here are just a few tips for walkers:

• Invest in good shoes and good socks. Nothing takes the fun out of a good walk faster than blisters and sore legs and feet.

• Walking on hard cement is hard on the feet, ankles, knees and entire body.  Many walking paths are cement, which can be a little discouraging.  I sometimes walk on the grass along them.  My preference is blacktop, which seems to “give” a little under my feet. This is why, as a motorist, you might get frustrated driving up on some walkers and they are walking down the side of the street instead of on the cement sidewalk.  Saving their legs, you see?

• Be sure to walk in an area that has public restrooms. Amazing how regular your bowels can become with those brisk walks. Be prepared if nature calls.

• Find an area that has some elevation gain.  Do not just walk on the flat but push yourself by finding some small hills. Walk briskly up them. Ultimately, you will find you are climbing to the top without huffing and puffing so much. By the way, I am not advocating stressing your heart too much, but it is vitally important to get your old ticker beating somewhat beyond normal for you to improve your health.

Now, that is enough for walking. Let’s talk about hiking. My local hero is Walter Olson, who is slightly younger than I am, but who has put me and all his peers to shame over the last year.

He has the dedication of a West Point grad, which he is. So after a health scare, he decided to start “hiking.”  If you check his Facebook page, he has done just about every hike there is in the Greater Lander Area, which means lots of high altitude jaunts.

He has lost 60 pounds and is in great shape. The only living thing willing to go with him on his treks is his dog Mac.

Lander will soon host the International Climbing Festival, which will be filled with lean, strong people of all ages. I tend to shy away from that crowd as my penguin-shaped body leaves me feeling very much out of place.

Lucky for all of us, Wyoming is a wonderful place for walkers and hikers.  Our state parks system is amazing with all the different types of walks and hikes. The National Forests are full of great hikes as are the national parks and national monuments.

So what is holding you back?  Start slow. Start small. Just be sure to wear good shoes and socks. And keep your eyes open for restrooms.

Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns at billsniffin.com. He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written six books, which are available at fine stores.  His latest is Wyoming at 125. His books are also available at wyomingwonders.com.

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