In the UK we’re seeing soaring levels of inactivity and the prevalence of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and lower back pain have reached near epidemic levels. For many of us, there’s always a reason, or worse still an excuse for not getting up and being active. One of the most frequently-cited barriers to exercise is lack of time (source: NHS Live Well), and there’s no doubt that our working patterns contribute to this.
57% of workers in the UK commute by car and van, or receive a lift. The majority may see this as a necessity, the easiest way to guarantee that you get to work on time. Others however may be overlooking a viable alternative, one that could help them get the recommended 150 minutes of exercise that we need each week
(source: Department of Health).
Only a small 10.7% of us are walking commuters and it’s a figure that Walk to Work Week is aiming to greatly increase. This annual workplace challenge is designed to get employees commuting with their own two feet.
The evidence that such an event is necessary couldn’t be more overwhelming. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that by 2030, 73% of men and 63% of women in the UK could obese, while the charity Living Streets estimate that if everyone in England walked for just 20 minutes a day, 137,000 lives could be saved a year, as well as saving the economy billions.
If those figures make you want to get up and take action, here are a few of the great benefits you’ll reap simply by walking to work:
- Get in the right frame of mind – Nietzsche once said that “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking“. Maximise your time on your journey by setting yourself up for the day. A study by Stanford University showed that people perform better at tasks requiring creative thinking when they walk, so if there’s a nagging problem at work, figure out a solution before you get to the front door.
- Reduce stress – Studies show walking can significantly help stress and according to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, strolls through green spaces can actually help put the mind in a meditate state. Plus, walking to work means no gridlocks, delays or emergency roadworks, which is only going to help your mood.
- Burn calories and lose weight – Walking one mile can burn up to 100 calories, while walking two miles a day, three times a week can help you shed one pound every three weeks.
- Good for your wallet and the environment – Leaving your car at home or forgoing the bus can help you save money and help reduce CO2 emissions. That money could used for a new pair of walking shoes, or even a drink at the pub.
- Set the standard – If your colleagues see you strolling through the door every morning after you’ve walked to walk, they’re more likely to be inspired and feel they can do it too.
Hoping to experience these benefits first-hand is HFE’s Head of Marketing Joshua Douglas-Walton. This week he’ll be leaving his car at home and embarking on the three mile journey to the office. Check back later in the week when he’ll be posting pictures from his journey, calories burned and his thoughts on the experience.