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Step up this year, boost your health and help make Buffalo more walkable

Walking burns 90 to 120 calories an hour – about the equivalent of three cups of asparagus, broccoli or grapefruit – or half a doughnut, a third of a bagel with cream cheese or two-thirds of a beer.

Phil Haberstro, executive director of the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo – and the region’s leading walking man – easily can tick off its other benefits.

Done regularly, walking helps boost energy, reduce body fat and control weight. It lowers stress and bolsters mood, strengthens bones and muscles and improves sleep. It raises life expectancy and protects against chronic conditions that include cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression.

Walkable communities also connect people, lower greenhouse gas emissions and help fuel the local economy, Haberstro said.

No wonder the Wellness Institute looks bring the 2019 National Walking Summit to Buffalo.

America Walks – a national nonprofit group that has advocated walking and walkable communities throughout the U.S. for two decades – organizes the walk, which would bring roughly 700 summitgoers to downtown Buffalo for several days in September or October.

Meanwhile, the Wellness Institute looks to reach 125 million steps walked or rolled this year in events operated by the institute and its partners. That’s 20 million steps more than taken last year, with tallies from Explore Buffalo tours (43 million steps alone) and several annual walking series.

Buffalo eyed for national walking summit in 2019

Free guided, fun and moderate-pace walks this year will include:

Reflective Walks at Delaware Park: 10:45 a.m. to 11:30 am. the first Sunday of each month from March through November, starting and ending along Hoyt Lake, at the Marcy Casino. These walks are co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Art & Architecture, History and Nature.

National Walk at Lunch Day: The spring date and downtown Buffalo location has yet to be confirmed.

Downtown Wellness Walks: Noon during the first four Wednesdays in May and October, starting and ending at the Visit Buffalo Niagara Visitor Center, 403 Main St., along Lafayette Square.

See the weekly Refresh calendar or visit to learn about upcoming related events. Community organizations and employers who wish to participate in the communitywide walking initiative can call the institute at 851-4052 or email

Can Buffalo Niagara boost its walkability?

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