We're on the Move!
It’s all about physical activity! Rochester Walks is a City of Rochester initiative aimed at getting Rochester residents walking, moving, and becoming more physically active.
With a grant from the New York State Department of Health, Rochester Walks! advocates for environmental improvements that promote walking, labeling safe and interesting walking routes, and establishing walking clubs to bring neighbors together for fun and fitness.
From 2009-2015, the Center for Community Health of the University of Rochester Medical Center and Action for a Better Community led the crusade to making Rochester a healthier place to live, work and play. Presently, the Rochester Walks! initiative continues with the RW! Adopt-A-Route Program. Adopt-a-Route participants are community groups and Youth & Recreation Centers housed on or near each Rochester Walks! or H.E.A.R.T routes who are dedicated promoting physical activity in their neighborhoods and maintaining the visibility and use of these unique urban walking routes.
Rochester Walks routes feature information about local historical landmarks, making the RW experience both an educational and healthy one. Together, we are encouraging city residents and visitors alike to discover the benefits of walking while rediscovering Rochester’s abundant architectural, cultural, and natural resources!
Joining the city on this walking adventure are two local organizations committed to making Rochester a healthier place to live, work, and play: The Center for Community Health of the University of Rochester Medical Center and Action for a Better Community.
Together, we are encouraging city residents and visitors alike to discover the benefits of walking while rediscovering Rochester’s abundant architectural, cultural, and natural resources!
Rochester Walks! Routes & Maps
Long routes are approximately one (1) mile long. Short routes are approximately a 1/2 mile long.
H.E.A.R.T Routes & Maps
Walk Your Way to Better Health
Joining a neighborhood walking group is a fun, affordable way to get fit. You can socialize, stay motivated, and strengthen friendships – all while moving toward a healthier lifestyle. Walking is easy, inexpensive, and a vital part of staying active. The low-impact exercise works major muscle groups, raises your heart rate, burns calories, and lowers blood pressure, leading to better physical and mental health, fitness and weight management.
Getting – and staying – in shape takes commitment. A walking group offers built-in support to keep you focused on your fitness goals. (And you’ll likely wind up with a better appreciation for your neighborhood’s architecture and rich history.) Interested, but don’t know where to begin? Stay tuned for a list of Adopt-a-Route participant locations, where you can find maps, training tips, and everything else you need to take part in a dedicated walking group in your neighborhood. Healthier residents make healthier communities for generations to come. So take a step in the right direction and get moving – together.
Benefits of Walking
Walking is a simple exercise with numerous health benefits. Did you know that a 45-minute walk at a brisk pace can burn up to 300 calories? And research shows that a brisk walking routine can be just as effective as more vigorous workouts at reducing the risk of heart attack. Walking can also help you:
- reduce the risk of cancer and diabetes
- boost energy levels
- improve posture and circulation
- strengthen bones, joints and muscles
- lower blood pressure
- lower “bad” cholesterol and raise “good” cholesterol
- control blood sugar
- relieve stress and improve mood
- bolster the immune system
- manage weight
- increase flexibility
- improve sleep
- protects against falling and bone fractures in older adults
- encourage socialization
- enhance overall quality of life
If you want to organize a walking group, ask a friend or neighbor to help. Having a planning partner will make the process more fun – and make you more likely to stick with the program. Invite neighbors to learn more.
Post fliers around the neighborhood to spark interest – in stores, libraries, health clubs, community centers, churches and other popular gathering spots. E-mail friends and local businesses. Promote your group on social media sites.
Host an informal meeting. Discuss the frequency, pace and distance of the walks, when and where to meet, and what to do in case of bad weather. Exchange contact information. Welcome as many people as possible.
Once you find enough people and begin walking you can always decide to divide a large group into smaller ones, depending on physical ability, fitness goals, availability and other factors. Be sure to schedule regular walk times. Not everyone will be able to make every walk, but keeping the routine consistent will make it easier to commit.
Plan social time together. Meet for breakfast. Attend an event that promotes good health. Celebrate. Hit a milestone? Sticking with your routine? Remember to recognize the successes, no matter the size. Make it fun! Motivate walkers with contests, prizes and other incentives. Join a well-established fund-raising walk to support a favorite charity.
A community garden brings residents together and shows neighborhood pride.
A moderate walking program is safe for most people, but there are steps you should take to prevent blisters, muscle pain and other injuries.
- Wear good shoes. This is crucial for lasting comfort, support and balance. Go to a reputable retailer for expert assistance in selecting a shoe that will bend and grab your foot in all the right places.
- Suit up smart. Layer loose-fitting, weather-resistant clothes. Wear moisture-wicking socks that move sweat away from the foot, reducing friction and bacteria (cotton absorbs moisture and will keep your feet cold and wet). Carry identification and pocket change (you never know when you might want to stop for a frozen yogurt!).
- Be visible. Wear bright colors or reflective strips after dark so drivers can see you.
- Stretch. Gentle stretching warms up muscles and increases flexibility. Do head and arm circles, then focus on your calfs, quadriceps, hamstrings, and back. Take your time – aggressive stretching can increase the risk of injury.
- Warm up. Get your blood pumping with a slow walk on a flat surface for about five minutes.
- Increase pace gradually. Start with a short walk, between 15 and 20 minutes, at a moderate speed to assess your comfort level and ability. As you build endurance, pick up the pace, adding about five minutes every couple of days. Pumping your arms as you walk increases intensity.
- Stay flat. Steer clear at first of sloping sidewalks and hills to avoid ankle, knee or back injuries. As your fitness level improves, you’ll be able to switch – safely – to a more challenging route.
- Respect designated walking areas. Stay on sidewalks and paths. If you must be on the road at any point, enter slowly, walk facing traffic, and stay alert.
- Drink water. It’s important to replenish the fluids you lose while walking. Drink plenty of water before, during and after you exercise.
- Mind the weather. Cold weather can cause tight muscles and numb feet. Rain can cause slippery surfaces and decreased visibility. Use your judgment in less-than-ideal conditions. (And don’t forget sunscreen when needed.)
- Be prepared. Carry a cell phone and list of emergency contacts. It's also a good idea to have at least one person in the group carry some first-aid essentials.
- Listen to your body. Are your feet swollen? Do your joints ache? Take a break, rest up, and recover. Ignoring symptoms can cause significant injury and jeopardize your long-term goals. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience chest pain or shortness of breath.
It’s wise to check with your doctor before starting a regular exercise regimen, especially if you:
- have diabetes
- have a heart condition
- have asthma
- feel pain in your chest when you do physical activity
- take prescription drugs for a heart condition or high blood pressure
- have swollen joints
- have a hernia
- are pregnant
- are concerned about a musculoskeletal condition (such as arthritis or tendonitis)
- have not exercised in a while
"Having the RW purple and orange sneakers emblem painted on our Maplewood walking route has let residents and visitors alike know that this is a neighborhood that values walking and cares about exercise!" - Dewey/Driving Park resident
"Why Rochester Walks is so important to me is that I am taking care of my health at the same time I am taking care of my neighborhood by being seen and getting to know my neighbors" - Beechwood resident and regular route walker