© 2003 Merry L. Morris

Walking (at a zoo) is the best exercise!

Elmwood Park Zoo scene
Walk past scenes like this ...

They say walking is the best exercise, and those of us who prefer walking to any other form of exercise agree with "them". If you enjoy walking for exercise, head for your local zoo, because there is no better place to go for a walk.

And if you are the type of person who likes to follow a regimented fitness program, you can easily set up a zoo-walking plan for yourself.

National Zoo scene
... and scenes like this ...
The first step in planning a zoo-walking fitness program is to purchase an annual zoo membership. Then you can walk around the zoo every day without having to pay admission charges. Most zoos also include free parking with the purchase of a membership.

Here are some further suggestions for your zoo-walking fitness program.

  1. Arrive at the zoo when it opens or about an hour before it closes. (Most zoos open at 9:30 or 10 o'clock and close at 5 or 6 o'clock, but you don't have to leave the zoo until an hour or so after closing time). The zoo will be the least crowded at those times and you can walk briskly without having to maneauver through crowds.
  2. Walk at a steady pace from the end of the zoo where you entered all the way to the other end without stopping. Do not go in any buildings that you pass.
  3. When you arrive at the other end of the zoo, turn around and head back toward the end of the zoo you came from. Walk briskly between exhibits, but stop to look at the animals as you pass them. Go in the buildings and walk around each building at least once.
  4. When you have reached the end of the zoo at which you entered, you have three choices, depending on your current fitness level and your desired fitness level:
    • You can leave the zoo, or find a place to have a refreshment and sit and watch the animals. (Current fitness level 1; desired fitness level 1)
    • You can sit for a while, have a refreshment, then walk briskly back to exhibits you want to see again. (Current fitness level 1; desired fitness level 2)
    • You can walk briskly back to the exhibits you want to see again. (Current fitness level 2; desired fitness level 2)
    • You can stop briefly to sit and have a refreshment then repeat steps 1 and 2 above. (Current fitness level 2; desired fitness level 3)
    • You can repeat steps 1 and 2 above. (Current fitness level 3; desired fitness level 3)
Bronx Zoo scene
... and like this.
These suggestions are for walking around a zoo that is approximately the size of the Philadelphia Zoo (45 sq. acres). If you follow these suggestions at a zoo the size of the Brandywine Zoo in Wilmington, DE (12 sq. acres), you must either repeat steps 1 and 2 at least ten times or subtract 2 from each fitness level. And if you are able to follow these guidelines at the Bronx Zoo (500 sq. acres), add 10 to each fitness level.

Of course, as doctors always say, check with your doctor before attempting to improve your health. But if your doctor says a couple of hours of brisk walking every day will be good for you, head for the zoo!

If you have any comments or questions, please contact me!

Back to Zoos are for adults, too!

Back to Home page