By now most of us have heard that we’re out of shape, too fat, and largely immobile. It’s the sort of thing trend stories like to echo and you might suspect that this one is no different.
Well, the difference here is we are going to offer solutions. But first, a little news from the popular cultural front.
According to a recent Los Angeles Times article and several morning news programs, physician and author Dr. James Levine says we spend too much time sitting.
Levine’s latest book, “Get Up!” talks about his work and how studies conclude that we’re glued to our chairs, and that is killing us a little faster than nature might have intended.
As director of the Mayo-Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative, Levine has determined that sitting all day is not natural, and can be blamed for a number of ailments, including obesity.
We have, he writes, created a way of living that is in stark contrast to the way we were designed to live. In other words, a sedentary existence was not what nature conceived.
So the answer to this dilemma? Move more. Get up after meals and take a walk. Find activities that keep you moving. Sure, going to the movie is fine, or watching your favorite television show, but the rest of the time, well you ought to keep moving.
So what is our solution? Well we figured that there are plenty of free things to do that can keep us moving, and entertained. So we thought we’d offer a few suggestions.
Get up and walk
Walking is an obvious suggestion, but there is so much more to it than simply taking a stroll.
Did you know that there are walking tours available in Elizabeth City’s historic districts? Or how about a little Civil War history?
There are maps available at the Elizabeth City Convention and Tourism office (252-335-5330), just south of Mariners’ Wharf Park in the Cotton Gin building, on Water Street.
Inside you can find maps to a variety of walking tours organized by the Elizabeth City Historic Neighborhood Association. There are actually a number of walking tours.
What you will find is not only a relaxing stroll, but also interesting information about historic homes and buildings.
An added benefit is that you will get to learn a whole lot more about the community you call home, and you might even meet people. Seems that walking around has this sort of cause and effect.
The Civil War Historic Marker Walk includes six sites that highlight significant events such as The Battle of Elizabeth City, and The Burning of Elizabeth City.
The walk is a circuitous route that takes your through downtown and allows you to not only touch on the highlights of the Civil War in Elizabeth City, but also get to know the downtown district and its many amenities.
One of those amenities is Port Discover (252-338-6117). The hands-on science center for kids offers a number of free events, including free admission to its center.
It is there that you will find a number of exhibits designed for you and the kids to learn and interact. It’s not exactly walking but if you do it right, you’re not going to be sitting down, either.
Port Discover also offers a walking map of downtown. This map has three walks measured for your convenience: quarter mile, half mile and one mile walks.
Get up and get cultured
You don’t have go on long walks to get up, out of your chair. You can enjoy some free activities offered by area organizations.
Across from Port Discover on Main Street, you can stroll through Arts of the Albemarle (252-338-6455) Tuesday through Saturday and take in the local and regional art scene.
AOA’s galleries offer a nice way to casually stroll – read getting up – while enjoying art. And you don’t have to be an art lover as long as you posses a little willingness. You never, you might discover something you like.
Down the road on Water Street is Museum of the Albemarle (252-335-1453). Now this is a place where you can truly stroll; you know, stay on your feet for a long period of time.
Here you will find a number of exhibits that demand your time. In the main gallery, the Our Story exhibit tells the story of the region from pre-colonial times when the region was populated by native people to the present.
In the Coast Guard exhibit you can learn about the service’s history here, as well as the history of flight and its relationship to the Coast Guard.
There is also the Civil War exhibit where you will learn about the struggles of the region under two flags, the Union and Confederate.
Get up and out in nature
The Albemarle is also home to one of the great natural wonders of North America, The Great Dismal Swamp. At the Dismal Swamp State Park (252-771-6593) you have the chance to walk or ride through nature.
The park offers a number of trails for not only walking, but also biking. And if you don’t have a bike, you can rent one from the park.
There are plenty of other free activities around the region, but the larger point made by Dr. Levine’s work and book is that, “We are sitting ourselves to death.”
For more information about activities around the region, check out The Daily Advance’s Going Out Guide, Thursday Weekend Guide, or our Saturday calendar.
Get up and ride a bike
Starting next Sunday, Aug. 17, downtown Elizabeth City is promoting a free bike-riding program designed to get you out and out about on two wheels. Town officials are closing streets so that folks can ride safely and enjoy the scenery.
You can meet at Mariners’ Wharf at 5 p.m. for the ride. Cylists will ride along select, closed downtown streets. Route is E. Church Street to S. Elliott Street, S. Elliott Street to E. Main Street along E. Main Street to S. Poindexter Street, and back to E. Church Street.
Bikers are welcome to cruise the routes as often as they like between 5 and 7 p.m. Additional dates for the bike rides are Aug. 31, Sept. 14 and 28, Oct. 5 and 12.