Book Review: 52 Ways to Walk

by Annabel StreetsG.P. PUTNAM’S SONS
reviewed by A. Perkins

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ANNABEL STREETS, in an effort to prove that walking is not, as many suppose, boring, began to experiment. She strolled at high altitude, in forests, barefoot, backward, and under a full moon. With curiosity as her only guide, she followed rivers, ley lines, pilgrim routes. She tried power walking, mindfulness walking, listing smells while walking. Her results fit into 52 short chapters, each focused on a different way to enjoy a daily constitutional or, as Streets likes to call it, a yomp.

Though the prose glides right along, a reader may find that it takes her quite a long time to finish this book due to the fact that every time she picks it up she will be inspired to put it down and go for a yomp. From practical tips on improving one’s gait to exploring new areas without a map, Streets offers dozens of innovative ways to get anyone at any age or fitness level walking. Studies show that there are many benefits to be reaped from even a very short or very slow walk. Wandering in the cold, wind, and rain each have their own unique rewards as well, and muddy walks in particular have been shown to enhance mood, aid in concentration, and alleviate asthma.

One thing you may particularly appreciate is how Streets always points out that even if one study shows a certain correlation, another study, somewhere else, is sure to show the opposite. The book is at its strongest when it doesn’t rely on the data to make a point. The stories and felt experiences of people who walk are what really resonate.

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