Thomas Jefferson: A Walker Ahead of His Time

When he wasn’t busy establishing our new democracy or writing the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson was out walking. “The solemn invigorator of the body is exercise, and of all exercises walking is the best,” he wrote to his future son-in-law in 1786. He would be adored by health experts the world over for his words: “Not less than two hours a day should be devoted to exercise, and the weather should be little regarded…”

Jefferson bought a pedometer in France, where he walked to landmarks all over Paris, carefully recording the number of steps in his notebook. An all-season walker, he noted that covering a mile in summer required 2,066.5 steps, while the “brisk walk of winter” reduced it to 1,735 steps. Clearly he didn’t let the cold weather stop him; Jefferson simply picked up the pace and extended his stride to keep warm.

Source: Fenton, M. and Bassett, D. 2006. Pedometer Walking. Guilford, C.T.: Lyons Press. (p.9)

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