Exercising While Living in a City Should Be Redundant

by John Riecke

You know what I don’t like? Exercising. I don’t like taking the time or making the effort. Blech. You know what I do like? Walking to the coffee shop on the weekend. Strolling to the fancy restaurant down the street on a date. Hoofing it to the grocery store and not fighting for a parking spot. A leisurely fifteen minute bike ride to work, sans-spandex. Sauntering downtown to meet friends for a drink and not worrying about how to get home. Even hiking the dog around the neighborhood, to the park, seeing the people and buildings and interacting with them along the way. And finally, I enjoy that I don’t have to exercise because my neighborhood is structured in a way that lets me avoid it.


I love the variety of things to do in my city and especially the fact that they’re all so close that I don’t have drive to them. I’m not choosing to walk for my health—it’s actually the best choice given the great variety that my neighborhood offers. Why would I choose traffic and parking when I could literally waltz to my destination if I choose? Getting from A to B shouldn’t be a battle or a chore; it should be an experience, an opportunity. Don’t people always say it’s the journey, not the destination? That shouldn’t apply only to vacations and vision quests, our city should be built to allow people to experience their journey every time they leave the house. Why do I always feel that when I’m driving somewhere the destination is the most important thing and the journey is an inconvenience? I never feel like that while walking to the taco place, or biking to the movie theater, or taking the bus to work. The chore is gone and the journey becomes part of the experience.

So then I have to ask you what kind of city you want. One that makes the trip as engaging as the destination or one that encourages you to get in and out as quickly as possible? I’ve found that one is better for my soul. City leaders are also beginning to remember that walkable neighborhoods with plenty of destinations are better for civic culture, not to mention the bottom lines of their budgets. Denver’s urban future is on the way and I’m looking forward to experiencing more parts of the city that have remembered how to build neighborhoods that allow people to live healthily instead of travel quickly.


John Riecke holds a degree in Political Science from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. A resident of Capitol Hill, John is a volunteer for the local neighborhood organizations, Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation and Capitol Hill United Neighborhood and enjoys studying economic systems and engaging with city planning efforts. John became interested in city-building like many do when he bought his first house.

By | 2016-12-27T16:37:11+00:00 August 15, 2016|Categories: Healthy Communities, Pedestrians, Urbanism, Walkability|Tags: , |8 Comments


  1. Norman August 16, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    Inspirational, I am working in my Littleton office but it makes me want to walk to the train and go downtown for a coffee now.

  2. brixel August 17, 2016 at 10:59 am

    I’ve been taking this walk from lower highlands to work in downtown for years now and its a great way to start and end the work day. I do not own a car (although my wife does) and people seem to think its because im a cheapskate, unable to comprehend the idea that walking, busing, and biking is a more enjoyable method of transportation for some. I’m also amazed at how sparse the foot traffic is in the mornings to downtown, its picked up a little in the last couple of years but still, people pay a serious premium to live in lower highlands and they dont seem to be taking advantage of its biggest benefit.

    • Ken Schroeppel August 17, 2016 at 4:26 pm

      That’s my commute every morning as well, and I love it.

  3. William Spriggs August 18, 2016 at 5:03 am

    Excellent short article
    This piece should be condensed and duplicated 100,000 times and placed under the windshield wipers of every parked car in lower downtown Denver.
    I love this city and surrounding areas (I live within six blocks of the West Rail Line) and can only see greater mobility and pedestrian access due to the efforts of Mr. Schroeppel and other advocates who continue to free our culture of the constant dependence on the automobile.
    William Spriggs

  4. Doug August 18, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    Fun read, it made me chuckle at how far Denver really has come in a relatively short time. 20 years ago, walking through the CPV (the area in the photo) might have resulted in you getting hit by a train, mugged, or both! I too go through that area everyday (by B-Cycle) and can’t wait for Denver to keep up this massive transition.

  5. Jon Dwight August 21, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    This was such an entertaining read, and you made an excellent point.

  6. Today’s Headlines | Streetsblog Denver August 22, 2016 at 7:50 am

    […] Exercise Comes Naturally When Streets Are Destinations Instead of Expressways (DenverUrbanism) […]

  7. Mallory August 24, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    Hear hear! I just moved back home to Denver after nearly a decade in DC — perhaps the most walkable city in the country (based on its compact size and public transit options)! I’m determined to make Denver a place where it’s easy to be car-free, and that’s getting easier and easier as I get comfortable with the buses and B-Cycle as alternatives to hoofing it everywhere. It’s always been funny to me that people think that my walking 30-45 minutes to and from work is strange thing, when those same people will drive 15 minutes to and from a one-hour indoor exercise class or stint at the gym. It seems so much more efficient — and, I agree with you, fun! — to treat commuting and getting around the city as an experiential, car-free adventure that happens to also be exercise. Cheers!

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