How walking can simplify your life

Sarah Tukua and Joe Hughes on a walk in the North Loop. Credit:

With more people living downtown, the opportunity to walk to get around is also rising. Two people who walk daily are Sarah Tukua, an account director at Carmichael Lynch, and her partner, Joe Hughes, a lecturer at the University of Minnesota. Sarah walks about 10 minutes to her job and Joe about 45. Here’s what they had to say about their routines and why they love walking.

Tell me about your daily routine. 

JH: Our day walking is walking to work in the morning, walking home in the afternoon, and going for our exercise walk in the evening. We basically walk to anything we can, except for the grocery store. We shop at the co-op. The food is too good and it’s too far to walk.

ST: We live very close to where we work, and that’s pretty intentional. So, walking is part of a life-functional aspect of our lives and getting where we need to be, getting to work. It’s also a form of relaxation, for me in particular, and it’s a time for us to connect after our day’s come to a close at night. There’s a lot we do on that walk. We get our exercise. We get outside for the day. We catch up, we talk.

JH: The walk to work is the best part of my day. It’s too annoying to read email because it shakes. You can’t compose an email without getting wildly distracted. So you put everything away and you walk. It’s gorgeous.

You walk daily? 

JH: Yeah, daily, for about an hour.

ST: We try to keep it up in winter, too.

JH: It’s even better in winter. It’s brutal at first, at the end of December, when it starts to get really cold and the snow starts to pack and become slippery. Then, we just put on Yak Traks and dress properly. It’s even nicer because you don’t overheat and there’s no one on the trails. It’s way more beautiful.

ST: They keep the trails clean, too. That’s a huge benefit of living in this area. There’s the walking trails.

Do you pay attention to the benefits of walking? 

ST: I pay attention to the financial part, for sure. In fact, I’ve even justified paying more in rent because we don’t have a car. We’ve said, let’s look at a really good location because we don’t need the commute. We don’t have to buy that second car, so it’s OK if we pay a hundred or a couple hundred more dollars in rent. We’ll factor that into where we live.

JH: When gas prices went up, we didn’t notice it. We’ve saved so much money. We also have satisfaction that we’re not contributing to suburbanization.

How did you get into this? Did you make a commitment to walking? 

ST: I studied abroad in Spain and I had to walk from my host family’s house to school. I didn’t have a car, so walking was the only way I could get places. I realized I wasn’t the only person doing that, in that community. I remember coming back, at age 20 or 21, and feeling like I had to get in my car to go to my job at the bagel shop and it just didn’t feel as rich of a community.

JH: I did my graduate work at the University of Edinburgh. My flat was a 45-minute walk to campus. We still walked everyday. That’s a city designed for walking. You walk past grocery stores, bakeries, past a bank. You go past all the kinds of shops you could ever need. 

What do you enjoy about your daily walk? 

JH: Mine is along the river and it’s pretty unbeatable. I cross over the Stone Arch Bridge and go along the railroad tracks by the U. They do repairs to streetcars down there. It’s really fun to watch.

ST: My walk to work is past all the strip joints. Our exercise walk is along the river. We see a ton of eagles and see otters, beavers, deer,  ducks. It always surprises us how much wildlife we see in the city.

What kind of problems do you encounter, if any? 

ST: When I walk to work, I try to make eye contact with the vehicle before I cross because there are so many people who are just aren’t seeing you. People have a tendency to be in a hurry.

Do you ever not feel safe? 

ST: If it’s light  out and I see other people around, I feel safe. I avoid walking by myself when it’s dark outside.

What’s your advice for someone considering walking more to get around? 

JH: Don’t think twice.

ST: It will simplify your life.


Hilary Reeves is communications director for Transit for Livable Communities.