Health and history blend seamlessly in Dayton historic neighborhoods walking tours

Preservation Dayton's Historic Neighborhoods Walking Tours includes Wright-Dunbar Village. CONTRIBUTION/DEBBIE JUNIEWICZ
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Preservation Dayton's Historic Neighborhoods Walking Tours includes Wright-Dunbar Village. CONTRIBUTION/DEBBIE JUNIEWICZ

Living history and living longer – Preservation Dayton’s historic district walking tours let you step back in time while getting your steps in.

The self-guided walking tours of 10 historically-zoned districts highlight the distinctive architecture and historical significance of the unique neighborhoods. From Wilbur and Orville’s brother Lorin’s house in the Wright-Dunbar Village to the Huffman Historic District, which was envisioned by Huffy Bicycle Company founder William Huffman, there are many exceptional neighborhoods to explore throughout Dayton.

“Every neighborhood has its own personality and architectural style,” said Monica Snow, Preservation Dayton Inc. president. “One of the unique things about Dayton is that all of the neighborhoods are very diverse in architectural style.”

The tours highlight the architectural and cultural significance of Dayton's historic neighborhoods - Debbie Juniewicz
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The tours highlight the architectural and cultural significance of Dayton's historic neighborhoods - Debbie Juniewicz

With the many charming streetscapes, colorful houses and historical highlights – not to mention interesting narration – you might even forget that you’re logging so many steps. But recent studies highlight the many health benefits of walking.

From regulating blood sugar and lowering blood pressure to supporting mental health and improving sleep, the benefits go far beyond burning calories.

Walking your way to health

An occasional sleepless night is not unusual and may result in little more than fatigue, but regular poor sleep has been linked with a variety of serious medical conditions including heart disease, diabetes and obesity and can even shorten life expectancy.

A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that walking briskly for two-and-a-half hours a week “eliminated most of the deleterious associations of poor sleep with mortality” and was enough to mitigate the risk of dying prematurely. According to the study, the likelihood of being diagnosed with cancer or heart disease was also decreased by walking.

Adding some interesting new urban scenery might be the key to adding to your daily step count.

“This is a great way to get out and walk at your own pace,” Snow said. “Just download the audio on your phone and you’re ready to go.”

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Walking through history

The historic walking tours were a labor of love by the dedicated Preservation Dayton volunteers who spent countless hours updating older tours and creating the current content and routes.

“Our devoted volunteers did a lot of outdoor walking by canvassing the homeowners in each of the districts to get additional information about each home, taking photos, and revising the tour flow,” Snow said.

From ornate Victorian and stately Queen Ann homes to more modest Craftsman style – not to mention a Tudor or two – a single walk can include a multitude of architectural styles. And while the tours give a nod to the past – walking down the same streets as Paul Lawrence Dunbar and the Wright family – these neighborhoods are alive and well.

“So many of these neighborhoods are burgeoning with new residents,” Snow said. “We are really happy to make these tours available as a gift to the community.”

Contact this contributing writer at djuniewicz@gmail.com.

Preservation Dayton Inc.'s historic walking tours include 10 unique historic districts. CONTRIBUTED
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Preservation Dayton Inc.'s historic walking tours include 10 unique historic districts. CONTRIBUTED

Dayton Historic Neighborhoods Walking Tours

Visit www.preservationdayton.com/walking_tours.html for more information or to download the tours.

  • Dayton View Historic District
  • Five Oaks Historic Districts
  • Grafton Hill Historic District
  • Huffman Historic District
  • McPherson Town Historic District
  • Oregon Historic District
  • South Park Historic District
  • St. Anne’s Hill Historic District
  • Wright-Dunbar (West Third Street Historic District and Wright-Dunbar Village Historic District)
  • Paul Lawrence Dunbar Historic District