April 5 is National Walk to Work Day. The clocks have sprung forward and the weather’s getting warmer, so once again we’re waking up to bright sunshine and pleasant temperatures. The perfect conditions, in fact, for a brisk walk to work!
There are many benefits to walking to work – some obvious, some not so obvious. In this post, we’ll give you 6 very good reasons why you might make every day walk to work day!
1. Walking to Work is Good for the Environment
This is one of the obvious benefits we were talking about. If you walk to work, you’ll reduce your carbon footprint.
This website lets you calculate the carbon emissions from your daily commute. Your emissions will vary depending on how you get to work. If you drive, they’ll be quite high, especially if you spend any stretch of your commute stuck in traffic. Cars are at their least efficient during traffic jams.
If you use public transport, your emissions will be considerably lower. But if you walk to work? Zero. That’ll certainly put a spring in your step!
Imagine the good we could do the planet if everyone walked to work every day?
2. Walking to Work will Save You Money
If you drive to work every day, you’ll be spending quite a bit each month on fuel. Plus you’ll have to consider ongoing car maintenance, insurance, and maybe even tolls and congestion charges, depending on where you work.
Public transport isn’t exactly cheap, either. Bus passes and railcards can help, but it’s not unusual for commuters to spend hundreds each month on travel costs.
Walking to work, though, costs nothing. Think of how much you could save each week, each month, and each year.
3. Walking to Work Will Get You Fit
A brisk walk is one of the most effective cardiovascular workouts possible. In the long-term, walking to work will do wonders for your heart health, your lung capacity, your stamina, and your energy levels. You’ll tone up and develop muscles you didn’t know you had. You’ll sleep better, and you’ll improve your metabolism, so you’ll feel fuller for longer after meals.
4. Getting Fit Will Improve Your Performance at Work
Take a look at the employee wellbeing program of pretty much any of the world’s most successful businesses. Almost all of them involve schemes to encourage employees to get fit, play sports, stay active, and generally move more.
If you arrive at work energized and refreshed after a brisk walk, you’ll likely feel more positive and productive for the rest of the day. You might be surprised at just how much you manage to get done!
5. You’ll Feel Less Stressed and More Successful
So walking to work is great exercise, and exercise is great for your physical and mental health.
Yes, you could feel more motivated and productive. But even better, exercise could help you to manage your stress in the workplace. It can help you to cope with anxiety and other mental ill health issues. It could even make you less susceptible to those horrible bugs that make the rounds each year.
In short, regular exercise could make you feel happier inside and out. You could feel more resilient, and better equipped to deal with everything your job has to throw at you.
And the icing on the cake? Happy people are more likely to get promoted.
Yep. Walking to work could be great for your career.
6. Walking to Work Means More You-Time
Walking to work may take longer than driving, or using public transport. But think of all the things you could do with that extra time. Podcasts! Audiobooks! Spotify playlists! Your walk to work could be an opportunity to really indulge in whatever it is that makes you tick!
Now, you might point out that you can also listen to music and podcasts while driving, or taking the bus. And that’s very true. But there’s one thing you can do while walking that isn’t really possible with other forms of travel: Meditate.
Mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zine believes that as little as nine minutes’ walking could help you to clear your head and really savor the day:
“With walking,” he writes, “we have the opportunity to be in our bodies in a somewhat different way than when sitting or lying down… So when the mind goes off, as it will do in walking meditation, we take note of where it has gone, of what is presently on our mind, and then gently escort it back to this moment, this breath, and this step.”
All those troubles on your mind? That heaving email inbox, that tedious meeting, that phone call you’re absolutely dreading to make…
…perhaps none of that will seem so troubling after a mindful, meditative walk to work?
But What if I Can’t Walk to Work?
Maybe you live too far away, or maybe you work in a business park that’s only really accessible by car.
You can still enjoy the benefits of walking to work. Maybe you could park slightly further away than usual, and finish your journey on foot? Or if you take the bus or the train, maybe you could get off a couple of stops early, and walk the rest of the way?
And if none of this is practical, are there any parks nearby? Why not spend your lunch breaks sauntering? Even a few laps of your premises each day could bring major gains in the long term.
Walking to work is good for you. It’s good for your physical health, your mental health, your wallet, your career, and, yes, even the planet.
So as much as is possible, why don’t we all try to make every day walking to work day?
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Katrina is edays' own People Director with significant UK and international experience in delivering people strategy and value-adding HR solutions across a range of organisations and sectors (including Arriva, Boots, Rolls Royce, the utility and charity sectors). Katrina has over 20 years of experience in Human Resources and is CIPD qualified.