We’re very excited here at Health@Work because May is National Walking Month, and we love getting out and about. The initiative is designed to encourage everyone to walk their everyday journeys, in order to feel fitter, happier, and better connected, all while helping the environment. We asked our Bristol based Wellbeing Consultant Tom Waterfall to write us a short article on the benefits of staying active through May and beyond!
Yes, just a 20 minute walk each day has myriad benefits that you might not realise:
Your health – burn calories and increase your metabolism while improving heart health and blood pressure.
Your wellbeing – being active and getting outdoors can really improve your mood by relieving stress and releasing some uplifting endorphins to help you keep happy and more focused throughout the afternoon.
Feel connected – you can walk with friends or family as a great way to connect. You’ll likely discover new things in your community too – it’s amazing what you miss when driving that you’ll spot on a walk: beautiful architecture, characterful trees, posters for interesting things going on near you, or passing a new restaurant you hadn’t noticed that you’d like to try.
Save the environment – by walking instead of driving, you’ll improve our air quality by reducing polluting emissions and make our roads safer by reducing congestion.
Save money – think how much you spend on petrol, parking, or public transport each day. Now multiply that by 230 (the number of days we work each year on average). The money you’d save by walking instead would probably pay for a very nice holiday!
From a health perspective alone, the physical and mental benefits of a daily walk are resounding. Yet 39% of UK adults don’t meet the government recommendations for physical activity – that’s around 20 million of us.
And a sedentary lifestyle, even if you’re not overweight, is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In fact, even if you exercise regularly, your heart will thank you for frequent walks throughout the day, because new research shows that spending too much time sitting down, regardless of working out regularly, can still have negative health consequences.
That’s why the Workplace Wellbeing Charter encourages organisations to change workplace culture and to maximise opportunities, information, and support for all staff to be physically active.
So, what can we do to be more active and get involved with National Walking Month? Here’s our top five tips to increase that step-count:
Walk to work This is an obvious one, but by hitting the pavement instead of sitting in the car / bus / train, you’ll sneak in lots of steps and avoid rush hour road rage! If this is just too far, then try hopping off the bus one or two stops early, or parking a couple of roads away, and walking just the last section.
Get out at lunch time Grab a colleague and take a quick walk around the block at lunch time. It’s a great opportunity to clear your head and catch up with a co-worker about things other than work. Or if you’d prefer to walk alone, it’s a great opportunity to practise some mindfulness which can help enormously with stress.
Organise a charity walk You and your friends / colleagues can walk wherever and whenever suits you and it’s an inclusive activity as not everyone will feel confident enough to take part in an organised run / cycle. Plus, you can raise money for a great cause at the same time.
Walking meetings Whether you need a one-on-one conversation or need to meet a small group of co-workers, make it a more social event by having a walking meeting. Your brainstorming should also be much better because you’re thinking while moving around.
Walk an errand Pop out to the post box instead of waiting for the post collection, or actually go to the stationary shop instead of ordering supplies online. Short walks like this break up the day and help you bump up those steps!
So, what do you think? Tempted to reap the benefits of fitting in some extra walking throughout the day? If you have any other tips for boosting our step-count this National Walking Month, we’d love to hear from you as we’re always open to ideas!