Walk to Work Day takes place on the 5th of April – it aims to encourage us all to take steps towards incorporating more walking into our day-to-day lives and gaining the benefits to our general, physical and mental wellbeing. It’s also good for the environment as we can cut down on carbon emissions by not taking the car out as often.
Benefits of walking:
- Fun, free and cheap – It is free and simple and remains a popular aerobic activity and a fun way to keep active, to lose weight and to be healthy.
- Lace up and get ready- walking is easy to do and no special equipment is needed. Be prepared and comfortable ensuring your trainers provide adequate comfort, support and don’t cause blisters.
- Steps in your time- walking can be a flexible habit and can be incorporated into your daily routine within your individual time scales-so you can add to your exercise time over a week or month.
- Research supports walking – According to NHS Choices you don’t have to walk for hours as a brisk 10-minute daily walk has lots of health benefits and counts towards your recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise-and walking briskly helps build your stamina, burn excess calories and makes your heart healthier.
- Medical support-if you have any questions or concerns about a brisk walk affecting your health consult your GP prior to starting any exercise program.
Step by step tips to help you walk your way to better physical and mental health:
- Stairs vs elevator- Add a few extra steps to your activities by taking the stairs rather than the elevator.
- Have your route in mind- Park farther than usual or get off the bus before your stop and walk the rest to work.
- Clock up extra steps- Walk around the outside of your workplace before going in.
- Park the car- Walk instead of driving for short trips like the school run or your local newsagent.
- Reaping the health benefits of walking- Make a habit out of walking and keep motivated.
- Rhythm on the move- Take your favourite music with you as this takes your mind off the effort and allows you to walk faster and to the rhythm.
- Enjoy the scenery-whether this is indoor or outdoor. Daily dog walks are great to keep up your walking routine.
- Motivational support tools – Use your pedometer or your phone app to keep track of your steps. Find yourself a walking partner -this could be a friend, family member or working colleague.
- Keep on moving- Join a walking group which will keep you motivated and allow you to make new friends.
- Joint problems- Consult your GP regarding the forms of exercise that you intend to take up. You may also consult your local swimming centre regarding the availability of swimming classes or hydrotherapy sessions to help offer further support for your joints while you move.
Steps to moving forward:
Set yourself short term walking goals, for example, 5 or 10 minutes daily or increase the number of steps by 300-500 each day. Progress towards longer term walking goals once you have made walking a habit, for example, walking briskly for 30 minutes. Set goals together with your walking partner.
Safety while walking
- Safe environments- ensure you know your surroundings and walk in well-lit places.
- Mobile- ensure you have your mobile phone for any emergencies.
- Footwear- ensure you are wearing comfortable footwear with socks to cushion your feet.
- Walking surface- pay attention to your walking surface-use sidewalks and paths.
- Hydration – drink plenty of water before, during and after you are active especially in hot weather and while doing intense exercise. Take a bottle with you when you walk.
Sources: NHS Choices, Healthwise