#TBT Jefferson walks

I’m not a big quote guy to be honest. However, every once in a while I’ll come across one that I like. Today comes to us from the Father of Freedom, the King of the Constitution, the one, the only Thomas Jefferson.

If the body be feeble, the mind will not be strong. The sovereign invigorator of the body is exercise, and of all the exercises walking is best. A horse gives but a kind of half exercise, and a carriage is no better than a cradle. No one knows, till he tries, how easily a habit of walking is acquired.-Thomas Jefferson

Obviously we all know Jefferson did some seriously questionable things back in the day and this quote is probably out of context given what he said about Europe, but that doesn’t mean we have to ignore it.

He makes some fundamental points about walking and why our means of transportation, whatever they are, will never compare to just walking around.

He likens the carriage to “…no better than a cradle.” So go ahead and swap “carriage” with “car” and we’re in the same position today.

We’re starting to find out that sitting is really, REALLY bad for you. Unfortunately, it’s at the end of a working generation who spent most of their time sitting in cubicles for 40+ hours a week.

For those of us who sit all day (I have a standing desk with a tall chair so I switch), we usually get to work in a car, where we sit and then go home, where we sit. If we need anything from the store we drive. Restaurant? Drive to sit. Heck, we even drive to the place where we work out only to come home and sit.

The point is, walkability isn’t a liberal/conservative/hipster/traditionalist/baby boomer/millennial issue. It’s a HEALTH issue and that’s something we need to address.

Jeff Speck in Walkable City and his Ted Talk speaks to the fact that the obesity and health crisis in the U.S. is not from the food, but inactivity “born of our landscape” to steal his phrase.

He might be right, he might be wrong, but the point is, it will never hurt you to walk a little more. Anything we can do in our cities to make walking easier and more meaningful will only benefit us in the long run.


You can read the whole quote here, it’s the third one.

Photo credit to Thomas Leuthard from Albumarium

About Matthias Leyrer

Matthias Leyrer is a resident of Mankato looking to restore a fraction of its old glory. He writes about the economic, aesthetic, practical and financial issues facing the city of Mankato going forward.