Technology, already a titan of the world, pushed boundaries again, giving even the most technologically challenged individuals easy-to-use “the future is now” platforms to stay connected via a “pseudo” in-person feel. Zoom Happy Hour, anyone? Working from home, Telehealth, toilet paper shortages … this pandemic has seen it all, but as the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is getting nearer and brighter with the roll-out of effective vaccines, many of these pandemic inspired “techno-distractions” are undoubtedly starting to wear thin. Experts are imploring individuals to hang on to the shelter at home, stay six feet away from others, and wear a mask in hopes we will continue this altered way of life just a bit longer until a majority of the population has been vaccinated.
With Zoom fatigue, cabin fever and stuck-in-rut feelings abounding, what “new” to do until the days of gathering with others, free of masks, return? Perhaps revisiting an “old” staple of life that requires no cell service, wi-fi or special equipment (except maybe some comfy footwear) is the answer. If the prospect of going for a walk to help stave off some of the craziness of the pandemic way of life isn’t appealing, consider a few facts about the positive impact walking can have for the immune system, in addition to the known mental heath benefits.
Walking, even at a snail’s pace, is most definitely a form of exercise, and exercise in any form is good for the body. It gets the body up and moving against gravity, an act that provides a whole host of positives for the body’s structure and physiology. But why in particular is exercise good for virus abatement?
Some proven theories on why any form of exercise is good for immunity:
- Physical activity helps flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways.
- Exercise causes changes in antibodies, making them circulate faster, which may help the white blood cells detect infections sooner.
- The brief rise in body temperature may prevent bacteria from growing, similar to what happens with a fever.
- Exercise slows the release of stress hormones.
Not shy about its belief in how powerfully good walking can be for a body, the Scenic City has built in a surefire way to encourage the activity. Take advantage of over 16 miles of paved path along the southern banks of the Tennessee River on Chattanooga’s Riverwalk. Multiple points of entry allow for ease of access starting at the northern terminus of the Riverwalk at the Chickamauga Dam to its southern terminus on Broad Street, just shy of the St. Elmo district.
Just 20-30 minutes a day of walking activity is all it takes to activate an antidote of sorts in dealing with the pandemic, and a walk along any section of the Riverwalk provides for a lesson in nature, culture and history. Undoubtedly, the most common point of entry to the Riverwalk is on Broad Street at the Tennessee Aquarium; travel north to capture the art district or south to experience a more industrial environment.
Still not sold on the idea of a walk along the Riverwalk for an immunity boost or to dispel some of the pent up energy of keeping it close to home during the pandemic? Try this history lesson on for size, as it may be just the spark needed to get those feet pounding the pavement.
Nestled on Broad Street, amid the brick facade of one of the buildings on the block known as Hunt Row, is a quaint, quirky little shop full of sweetness known as The MoonPie Store. How can a story about walking for an immunity boost land at a confectionery delight for the taste buds? Stay tuned.
Picture it: The year was 1917, and a traveling salesman with Chattanooga Bakery by the name of Earl Mitchell was visiting with coal miners in Kentucky when one asked him for a snack as “big as the moon.” Not wanting to disappoint a customer, Mr. Mitchell reported the request to his employer. Chattanooga Bakery responded with the aptly named MoonPie, a tasty trio of graham cracker, marshmallow and chocolate. Legend has it that the coal miners loved the newly created MoonPie not only for its tasty, filling qualities but because it also fit perfectly in their lunch pails.
At the time the MoonPie was developed, Chattanooga Bakery was producing over 100 items, but the company soon realized it had something special with the new treat. At only 5 cents each, MoonPies flew off the shelves, and by 1929, it was the only product that the bakery produced, a model that continues to this day. Originally made with chocolate, the MoonPie has evolved to include other flavors such as vanilla, strawberry, lemon, orange, banana and salted caramel, along with double decker and mini versions. Chattanooga Bakery makes about 1 million MoonPies a day, so grab one on the way to the Riverwalk for an immunity-boosting walk. And that’s how a story on walking collides with some pretty cool Chattanooga history!
Lace up, mask up and get up and out for a walk with or without the MoonPie. It might be just what the doctor should order.
by JD Harper
JD Harper is a local author. “Glint,” her debut novel, is set in Chattanooga amid its rich Civil War history and rock climbing culture. Visit jd-harper.com.