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Walking to Work - How It Can Improve Physical & Mental Health

28 July 2023

More and more people are starting to notice the impact that driving and public transport is having on our lives. From taking up valuable fossil fuels to encouraging us to sit and sit and sit longer, there are a number of consequences it can have on us.

Walking to work is an option though! In fact, many experts have recommended that people start walking to work due to the benefits it has towards health and the environment.

Of course, not everyone has this luxury. Some people live too far away from their workplace to walk, and others have no option but to drive. However, if walking is an option for you, don't pass it up!

If you haven't considered them before, here are some benefits of walking to work.

Why You Should Walk To Work

Better Fitness

One of the most obvious benefits of walking is that it's good for your overall health and fitness. We know that walking is good for us, but most of us don't recognize how much.

For one thing, walking is a form of cardio, which is necessary for heart health. Cardio exercises require a lot of energy, which means that your cells need more energy to move. As a result, your heart beats faster, pumping blood through the body to make sure your cells remain oxygenated.

When you walk fast or briskly, you are raising your heart rate and giving your cardiovascular system that much-needed exercise.

It may be tiring at first, but over time as your stamina grows and your body becomes more capable of putting in more effort, you'll find that you don't feel as worn out anymore. Not only do you give your body that much-needed exercise, you can also burn some of those extra calories than if you were in a car.

Prevent Health Issues

Again, walking is a form of exercise, and can help you stay in shape. Not only does walking provide you with better heart health (which serves to prevent issues as well) but it also lowers the risk of you developing any sort of conditions related to obesity.

When you sit for a long stretch of time - which you are already doing at work! - you're burning far less calories than if you spent that same amount of time walking or standing. This means that those extra calories can get stored in the body in the form of fat deposits and lead to further problems.

For diabetes to heart disease and high blood pressure, you can easily find yourself suffering from multiple problems. However, just by walking to work - since you have to get there anyway - you can reduce this risk by making sure you get enough exercise to keep that fat from storing up.

On top of that, if you already feel like you've gained weight from not exercising as much, walking to work can help you lose some of it!

Alone Time

From your work life to your home life and your social life, there isn't actually enough time in the day to spend on yourself. When you're juggling all these social roles you have to play, it's difficult to find enough time during your waking hours to keep up with all your relationships and indulge in a bit of self-reflection and care.

Walking to work gives you that opportunity. If you were taking public transport or driving, you'd be so focused on the road that it becomes difficult to think about yourself. Instead, if you chose to walk, you'd get the time to focus on your life and do some of that introspective self-reflection that we all need every once in a while.

Having time to yourself doesn't just help you come up with solutions to problems - since you have more time to think about them - but also lets you be more in touch with your thoughts and feelings. You'll find that you're a lot more relaxed when you get that much-needed me-time regularly, instead of being bombarded with expectations from other people all the time.

Mental Well-Being

Spending more time walking also helps with your mental health. In fact, there is plenty of evidence and research around how exercise helps with mental health.

When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins such as serotonin and dopamine which can elevate your mood and make you feel happier. On top of that, it also helps by reducing the level of cortisol, which is a stress hormone.

With more happy hormones and less stress hormones, you will undoubtedly feel a lot better about yourself.

Walking also helps you become more mindful. If you're driving, you're going to be too busy staring at the road, and if you're in public transport, chances are you'd be staring at your phone screen. Instead, if you walk, you'd get to pay more attention to your environment, which can help you notice more things and make you more mindful of your surroundings.

The aspect of alone time also ties in with mental health. When you're getting enough time to yourself and being able to self reflect enough, you're likely going to have better mental health than if otherwise.

This also means that when you walk in to work in the morning, you'll feel a lot more productive than if you had driven there!

Save Money

You'd be surprised by how much you can save money simply by walking to work. From bus and taxi fares to fuel prices, you can reduce all of those expenses by choosing to walk to work instead. In fact, when you're getting enough exercise by walking, you can also cut down on the cost of the gym you go to for your daily treadmill run. After all, why would you need the treadmill when you get to walk for free out in the open?

Increase Life Expectancy

Walking can actually add some years to your life. Research found that the more you walk, the lower your mortality rate becomes from all sorts of causes. Of course, this is to be expected, given all the health benefits of walking.

Improved heart health decreases the risk of mortality from cardiovascular problems, and reducing stress also helps with this. Chronic stress can cause problems with digestion, palpitations and physical tension as well, which can start to build up and make your life difficult. Walking doesn't completely erase these problems, but has a significant impact.

In fact, research found that those who took 8,000 steps a day would have a 51 percent lower mortality rate than those who took only 4,000. The more you walk, the more you live!

It's also never too late to start - no matter when in life you start incorporating exercise into your routine, you will reap the benefits.

Improved Brain Function

Did you know you can also help with your brain health by walking to work? Regular aerobic exercise can boost the size of the hippocampus, according to research. The hippocampus is the region of the brain associated with memory.

When you exercise, your neural pathways become activated and new connections are formed. More circuits in the brain means that more brain function is possible, and a larger hippocampus means that more of these circuits are related to your memory.

As such, you can reduce problems with concentration and memory simply by walking to work! Not only will this undoubtedly improve your performance at work, but you'd also be reducing the risk of cognitive disorders in the future, such as Alzheimers' and Parkinsons'.

Should I Walk To Work?

With how walking can improve health - the answer is yes! You absolutely should walk to work if you can. Since we spend most of the day sitting anyway, it's best to offset some of those effects by walking as much as we can.

Walking to work doesn't actually need a lot of thought. All you have to do is get yourself a good pair of walking shoes and dress appropriately. You can keep your work shoes with you to change into when you get to the office!

But not everyone manages to walk to work. If you live too far away, you may not be able to walk such long distances. In such cases, you may want to consider an under desk treadmill like FlexiSpot's Folding Treadmill Walking Pad that can help you get rid of some of that sitting time and also get you the walk you need.

With an under desk treadmill, you can get your work done and walk at the same time. Just like with walking to work, you don't need to make time for the gym to get your daily exercise - you can get it right there in the workplace.

Since walking also helps with boosting mood and brain power, you'd find that you'd be working a lot better when your legs are moving than if you were to be sitting still and idle in that uncomfortable office chair.