7 benefits of walking to work
Discover the benefits walking to work can have on yourself and your team.
Many that have been furloughed have recently returned to work, seeing a large increase of traffic on the roads once more. Previous government advice encouraged us to ditch public transport and walk to work - is that a habit you've kept up? If not, why not dig out your walking shoes and take to the pavements – the benefits on your mental and physical health from walking to work may surprise you.
What are the key benefits of walking to work?
Walking to work comes with a host of great benefits, and not just for the environment. Your body, mind and bank balance can all benefit too, so why not make this simple change and see what a difference it can make? Here are just a few benefits you can expect to see.
1. Better physical fitness
Walking is a great form of cardio exercise that doesn’t require sweating it out at the gym. If you walk fast enough to raise your heart rate, temperature and breathing, you can still reap the same kind of rewards as a run on the treadmill. After a while, you’ll find that you don’t feel as worn out when you arrive at work and can burn more energy than when you used to commute on public transport.
2. Fewer health issues
As with all other forms of exercise, walking can help you to stay in shape and, in turn, lower your risk of developing certain obesity-related conditions. From diabetes and coronary heart disease to high blood pressure and cholesterol, even a simple walk to work and back can strengthen your heart and help keep you healthy.
3. More time to yourself
If you’ve been known to complain about not having enough time to exercise, walking to work is a great solution. Rather than having to use some of your spare time to visit the gym or go for a run, exercise becomes a normal part of your everyday routine. Aside from cycling to work, there’s no more convenient way to exercise.
4. Increased mental wellbeing
The benefits of exercise for our mental health are well-documented, including walking. Scientists state that physical activity can cause chemical changes in the brain, such as the release of endorphins, which can positively charge your mood. This, in turn, can positively impact your level of motivation and self-esteem, boosting your energy levels.
Then, of course, there is the potential of walking to help you become more mindful. When you aren’t looking down at a screen on the bus or in a taxi, you can pay more attention to the things around you, often discovering sides of the area where you live that you hadn’t yet discovered.
5. Lower stress levels
Research from the University of East Anglia a few years ago found that as well as increasing our general wellbeing, walking to work can help us feel less stressed. They stated that people who switched their commute from public transport to walking or cycling actually felt better able to concentrate, and felt like they were under less strain than before.
6. Time to organise your mind
There’s no better time to meditate on a problem than when you’re walking to work. Giving more free time to think, without the added pressure of office surroundings, it’s the perfect opportunity to organise your mind before you get into work. You never know, you may end up finding a longed-for solution to a burning work problem.
7. Save money
You’d be surprised by how much money you could save just by walking to work. The fare you’d usually put aside for public transport, for example, or even the cost of an exercise class. Over time, it all adds up, and if your company is part of the Bike2Work Scheme, you could even save money on a bike.
How can you encourage your employees to walk more?
Employees who live too far away shouldn’t be left out of the walking revolution. There are many ways to get more steps into the working day.
Make it accessible
Consider the barriers employees could face to walking more. If they live a long distance away and have to travel by car, perhaps encouraging a lunchtime walk could be the best option. If a disability or chronic health issue is preventing someone from enjoying walking, you could test more accessible routes.
Of course, these are just suggestions. If you’re serious about introducing a new walking initiative, you should talk to a wide variety of colleagues about the barriers they face and take their suggestions on board.
Encourage walking in the office
Work to ensure that employees have the opportunity to go for a walk on their lunch break. To add a bit of healthy competition and incentive you could even introduce a step challenge with a small prize for the winner. Smaller meetings or 1-2-1's could also be done outside or walking, as long as it's safe to do so and social distancing is in place.
Provide walking facilities
There could be employees who want to walk more but can’t because of the weather. One idea could be to gift staff members with umbrellas and suncream if they would like to walk during inclement or hot weather.
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Visit the COVID-19 hub for more information.