Step by step

One of the ways I passed the time during the Covid lockdown was going on absurdly long walks with my son. It was during this time that I belatedly discovered the step counter on my phone that I had ignored for years. I suddenly had a new obsession: getting to 10,000 steps a day every day.

Why 10,000? Mostly because it’s a nice round number and easy to remember. One only needs to walk roughly half that distance to see health benefits. But even post-lockdown I was determined to keep to my walking goal.

Getting to this goal isn’t that difficult because Princeton is one of the most walkable towns in the state and the library is in the heart of downtown. Just strolling up from the entrance of the library to bustling Nassau Street earns you 260 steps. This is a long way from 10,000, but Nassau Street is one of the best walks in town for sightseeing and shopping. Walking the length of the business district (close to a mile from Bank Street to Linden Lane) adds 1,657 steps according to my phone. Doing this stretch as a loop from the library and back yields 3,834 steps. If nature walks in and around Princeton are more your style we have a book just for you. We are a library, after all.

But what if the weather doesn’t cooperate with your goal? In New Jersey we get hot and humid summers, frigid winters and plenty of rain. You could move your walk inside to a treadmill, or you could do what I tried: see how many steps you can add just by walking around the library. Some advantages to walking the library: it isn’t as dull as a treadmill, the building itself is beautiful and you will likely see book collections and features of the library you never knew existed.

Each floor has a different layout so the step numbers varied. The first floor is roughly 120 steps (depending on your stride) to encircle the main area beyond the lobby. The second floor is 147 steps to do one lap of the perimeter and the third floor is 134 steps. The main staircase has 48 steps so once I did a lap of all three floors I added 449 steps without any backtracking. Just walking around the building during a normal workday can add thousands of steps.

None of my strolls around the library feel like “exercise.” Moving through the spaces is really about exploration and discovery. I invite you to check out all areas of the library no matter what your goals may be.

Photo of the Princeton Public Library by the author.

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