Community Voice: Volkssport: The Foundations for a Lifetime of Good Health
The American Volkssport Association defines their marches as: “a non-competitive 6-mile (10-kilometer) walk.” It's not a pledge walk, nor a race, but a fun activity you do with a club, with your family, with your pet, or all by yourself. Dr. David Toth’s experiences with Volkssport over the years have helped him to achieve a foundation of good physical and mental health in preparation for health challenges later in life, as well as develop lifelong friendships.
David’s involvement in Volkssport was the commencement of regular exercise in his life. Though David walked for transportation as a child, he was not involved with sports, and “placed out” of Physical Education classes in college. However, on Easter Sunday in 1974, a persuasive friend finally convinced David to join him on a “march” (walk) in Germany with Volkssport.
Initially, David admits that he wore the wrong shoes and socks and developed blisters, but later found a doctor who gave him proper instructions on foot care. He then went on to complete more than 75 events in Germany over two years. Upon returning to the U.S., his involvement with Volkssport in Germany led him to found clubs here, starting with a local club in his new location of Dayton, Ohio. In August 1978, David successfully coordinated his first walk, and in June of 1979, held a founding convention in Dayton involving 35 clubs. David continued to serve as the first president, as well as participate regularly in marches until 1998, when he was forced to drop out due to hip pain resulting from a fall.
This hip pain kept David from walking and walking events for about 2 years, which led to depression. He missed the social aspect of the sport so much that he began to volunteer at events, and then started organizing them again. He now resides in San Antonio, Texas, where he still participates in Volkssport’s occasional swimming events, as well as attends all local walking events which take place practically every weekend. Socially, David feels that he has thrived on the close friendships he had developed through these events. As participants walk, they discuss a wide variety of topics, such as world events, family matters, etc., and continue these discussions during post-event activities. Even though David is no longer walking with the club, working with the event provides him with a very familiar and much-needed social experience.
Over the years, David’s absence from walking has led to a significant weight gain, which also affects the use of his hip. David has consulted with his doctor to slowly begin walking again. He will start with an initial weight loss goal and then begin walking with the assistance of a walker. David feels that his current social and organizational involvement, and past walking experiences with Volkssport, has significantly contributed to many positive social interactions, and his physical and mental health and well-being. Until his return to walking, David’s participation with Volkssport provides an invaluable amount of accomplishment, socialization, and enjoyment.
To contact David, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the American Volkssport Association, go to http://www.ava.org or call the AVA Hotline (voice only) at 1-800-830-WALK.