Whether you’re an essential worker or your office is starting to reopen, you might consider walking to work as a way to minimize time spent on public transportation. It’s also a great way to up your step count, reduce your carbon footprint and improve your mood, among other benefits. Here’s why you should consider walking to work whenever possible and important tips to keep in mind.
While some people might think driving to work is more convenient and takes less time, the benefits of walking to work can outweigh any perceived inconveniences you might have. If you’re on the fence about making walking to work a daily habit instead of a once per year chore, here are a few of the potential benefits that might sway your decision.
1. You’ll Sit Less
Sitting in a car or subway followed by more time sitting at a desk can negatively impact your health. Studies show prolonged sitting is linked to obesity and an increased risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. The good news: Getting up and moving (i.e., walking to work) can help counteract the harmful effects of sitting.
2. It’s Good For the Environment
One less car on the road is still a meaningful way to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change. Plus, you’ll also save money on gas. Try an alternative means of transportation at least once per week.
3. You’ll Be More Creative
Research shows you can boost creative potential by exercising before a task. This can help improve your performance at work.
4. It Counts as Exercise
If you have a hard time fitting exercise into a hectic schedule, walking to work can help. Not only can walking help with weight loss, but it also helps build muscle and improves cardiovascular stamina. Depending on how long your commute is, you can fit in a 10-, 20- or 30-minute walking workout.
5. It Supports Brain Health
Research shows daylight and aerobic exercise improves cognitive function, helping prevent cognitive decline and associated diseases like Alzheimer’s. Staying sharp mentally helps in and outside of the workplace.
6. You’ll Feel Happier and Less Stressed
Walking can help you feel less anxious, reduce depression and improve mood levels. Counter work (and other life) stressors in a productive manner by walking to work.
To get the most out of your walking commute, keep these three tips in mind:
- Plan Your Route
You might not necessarily want to walk the same route you drive. Side streets and walking paths are better alternatives to busy city streets, as they are usually quieter and more pedestrian-friendly.
- Do a Dry Run
Once you have a route or two you think is doable, test them out. This gives you an idea of how much time you’ll need to allow. Test your route during a weekday at the same time you’re planning to walk to work to mimic your regular commute. For the first few walks, give yourself an extra 20 minutes just in case something doesn’t go as expected.
- Wear the Right Gear
Invest in a good pair of walking shoes, so you’ll be more comfortable and less injury-prone. You’ll also want to wear sweat-wicking clothes and carry a backpack with your work clothes and any meal-prepped items. A backpack allows you to distribute the weight of your items evenly, while still maintaining proper walking posture.