We often think that staying fit in today’s lifestyle is a difficult task. But what if we told you it’s easier than you think? All you need to do is the thing that you are already been doing, just in a better way. How? By reaping the benefits of the simple walk to work!
“Walking every day has brought me peace of mind. It always seems like life’s better after a pleasant walk. “- Heather Long, now a regular walker says on Discover Walking.
You will find hundreds of people advocating about the countless benefits of walking. So, what exactly are the benefits of this well-praised walk to work? Is it a miracle? Is it a holy grail? How does it help? Let us find out, one by one.
Scientifically Proven Benefits of Walking To Work
1. Weight Loss? Check.
If you want to shed fat, start walking. On average, you can burn 100 to 300 calories in 30 minutes with brisk walking. Considering how enjoyable walks are, this is a gem! According to a study conducted in the U.K., people who walk briskly for more than 30 minutes have lower BMIs and thinner waists than those who do not.
Further, a significant amount of researches shows that those who practice walking gain lesser weight in the long run. It also tones your body and makes the physique more fit and healthy-looking.
The latest research by Harvard confirms that walking can reduce sugar cravings. It also curbs the appetite for foods containing fat and sugar, like chocolate. A decrease in unhealthy carbs, fat, and sugar is one of the best-proven ways to reduce weight.
2.Better Circulation Of Blood
Physical Activities, like walking, have a direct impact on blood circulation. About 20 to 30 minutes of brisk walking can improve blood function significantly. As a result, it prevents several heart diseases, regulates blood pressure, and is excellent for strengthening your heart.
Additionally, improper circulation can lead to fatigue, heavy legs, cold fingers, dropped energy levels, and even dull-looking skin. So if you’re looking to ward off any of these consequences, walking is your way to go!
3. Rough Mood? Walk it off!
Walking helps you relax, release stress, and decrease frustration as well. It helps in the release of Endorphins. Does this name ring a bell? It is known as the ‘happy hormone,’ which acts as a painkiller and a mood uplifter. According to the psychologists at the University of Illinois, six weeks of a twenty-minute walk is equivalent to a whole course of psychotherapy.
Suppose you can get a route to your work that includes more of nature, that’s even better. It is advisable to choose the greener route also if that means walking five or ten minutes more. Whether it is an extra stressful day or a small argument with a colleague- you know what to do!
4. Say Goodbye to Sick Leaves With Strong Immunity
Are you taking too many sick leaves? The road is here to help. Walking strengthens your immune system. It helps your body fight against bacterias and viruses better. Consequently, you will be less prone to the flu, cold, and other minor symptomatic diseases. In the long term, a boost in immunity can be very effective against fighting off deadly diseases.
Harvard Medical Study conducted a study of over 1,000 men and women. Those who walked at least 20 minutes a day for at least five days a week reported 43% lesser sick days. This comparison was against people who exercised once a week or less. Even if they contracted some illness, they recovered quicker, and the symptoms were less severe.
5. Stay More Active And Recover Quicker
You must have noticed that your heartbeat is faster than usual when walking, especially on longer distances. Walking causes the heart to pump blood faster. Which means, the oxygen travels quicker throughout your body. Oxygen is an essential nutrient for recharging your organs.
This increase in pace also aids toxic waste elimination from your body. Ultimately, your healing and tissue regeneration abilities are even better. If you feel like you are feeling an extra boost in spirits after a walk, it’s no coincidence.
6. Stronger Bones, Better Joints
Osteoporosis leads to weak and brittle bones. Even a slight amount of stress may cause a severe fracture. Though it affects all people, women have shown a higher tendency to be a target. Walking acts as a lubricant for the joints and strengthens the supporting muscles, hence protecting them.
It may also help ease the pain and reduce the symptoms for those with arthritis and fibromyalgia. However, it is necessary to seek proper medical counseling to get a customized plan if you have bone-related medical conditions.
7. Early To Bed, Early To Rise
Tossing around the bed, unable to sleep can be very frustrating. Walking can help you against that struggle. Researches show that walking can ward off insomnia. Lack of sleep is generally a result of some underlying condition. Since walking improves your overall body health, it can be beneficial to help you sleep.
If you have a daytime job, you might be luckier. Walking on natural sunlight outdoors can balance the circadian and readjust your circadian rhythm. Get ready to rise and shine on time!
8. Get smarter And Have A Healthy Brain Function
A study performed by researchers at the University of California shows that age-related memory decline was lower in those who walked more. Women who walked 2.5 miles per day had an 8% lesser decline in memory than those who did not. Walking also helps in fighting off Alzheimer’s diseases.
Similarly, walking helps you stay more alert. You can receive the environmental stimuli better, and focus for longer durations. Incorporating specific mind-enhancing techniques, such as co-ordinating your arms, can also boost the brain benefits of walking.
9. Live A Longer, Better Life
Regular physical exercise like walking can increase your average lifespan, and not just by one or two years. According to health experts, only 25 minutes of brisk walking a day can help you live seven more years.
Heart-related diseases, obesity, and diabetes have been responsible for early deaths in people. The mortality rates owing to these conditions have been increasing with time. Walking helps you fight such circumstances, and lets you live more of this beautiful life.
If you increase your pace in that walk, you might reap better benefits. In a Mayo Clinic study, women who walked at over four mph lived up to 15 years longer than those who walk at a lesser speed.
10. Fight Against Diseases And Win Them
Walking can help battle against many health issues. Being physically active significantly reduces the risk of several primary health conditions by between 20% and 60%. Some of the chronic illnesses that can be averted by walking are:
- Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity
- Heart Diseases
- Breast and Colon Cancer
- Joint Pain
- Depression and Anxiety
According to the Centre For Disease Control, walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week, is all you need as an adult. So why are you waiting?
“I am convinced, But Where Do I Begin?”
Many people understand the benefits of walking to work. But they still find it harder to implement it in action. Or, they are just looking for a way to start.
If you’re just getting into the idea, it can get overwhelming. You might be used to taking a comfortable ride to work. Ditching that leisure can be challenging. But remember,
The Journey Of A Thousand Miles begins with a single step.
You are not traveling a thousand miles, only a few. But taking the first step is equally important. You can begin by making slow changes and gradually making walk an inseparable habit.
For starters, try skipping the elevator. If your work station is just a few stories away, take those stairs. It builds your moving mindset and preps you for long walks.
Often, many make the mistake of being overly ambitious at once. While dreaming big is excellent, making those dreams practical is crucial. It is no use if you walk till you tire yourself out one day and stay in bed for the next week. Start slow.
You can begin walking once a week or on alternate days. You could also use a ride on your way to work and walk back home. The key here is finding what’s best for you. Everybody is made different, and generalization would be a mistake. Start with slow steps. Track how you feel every day. If you feel comfortable at the current rate, try increasing it the next time.
There is no universal hack when it comes to walking. Invent your golden principle. That’s the best way to make sustainable changes in your life.
Further, make moving a habit. Try to create strategies to reduce sitting time. Set a reminder to get out of your chair every hour or two at work. Also, resist the temptation to ask for favors to pass on stationery from the very next table. The gist is simple things matter. The more active you stay, the more you will be encouraged.
Remember, it takes some time to form a new habit. But it takes more to break old ones. So try to understand what’s stopping you currently and work on them. Once you hit the roads daily, there is no turning back!
Work Smart, Not Hard: Tips To Make The Most Out Of Your Walk
We’ve already discussed the benefits of walking and how one can start on the journey. But it is essential to understand that not all walks are the same. How can you ensure that you get the most out of your short walk to work? Here are some tips you can keep in mind:
1. Maintain The Right Posture
Maintaining your form and posture can elevate your walking experience. Keep your shoulders relaxed at all times. Try to have a straight back, and unclench your jaws. Avoid looking down and bending your neck. In other words, keep your head up, literally!
2. Swing Your Arms
Swing your arms back and forth throughout the walk. It improves coordination and also your body balance. Maintain a slight bend in your arms instead of letting them drop to the ground for better results.
3. Add Weights To The Walk
If you need to carry your laptop to work, it might be fruitful. Otherwise, try taking a water bottle or bringing your lunch. If you add weights in your walk, you can improve your strength and promote calorie burn. However, try not to carry them in your hands. A backpack is the best option.
4. Mind Your Pace
Brisk walking is the best option. Imagine that you are getting late and walk like it. However, don’t overdo it or push your limits. Find your pace and gradually work your way upwards. Your comfort is vital.
5. Engage Your Core
Try to be mindful of your breathing. Take relaxed, long breaths. You can pull your stomach inwards to tone your abs and burn more calories. It is also a good idea to inhale from your nose instead of the mouth.
6. Practice Taking Long Strides
The length of your strides affects the strength and flexibility of your legs. Increase the space between your legs in each step. It will tone your inner thighs and calves well.
7. Enjoy The Process
Lastly, remember to enjoy the process. Take a moment to observe your surroundings. Use it for self-reflection. Or simply consider it as a “me” time. The happier you are doing something, the quicker you are going to yield results. And the longer you will be able to continue to do it.
Elevate Your Experience With Simple Additions
While some may enjoy walking as it is, many prefer to add on to the experience. With just a few tweaks, you can create a wholesome time for yourself. Here’s how:
Get Plugged In
Listening to your favorite music can make this activity a lot more fun. It doesn’t just have to be music- you could listen to positive affirmations, podcasts, inspirational speeches, and a lot more. You just need to explore, and you’re sure to find the right fit. Remember to stay at a safe distance from the road, and not let the volume be too high. Safety first!
Learn As You Go
Listening to audiobooks is a great idea. Did you know that most billionaires read every single day? Now, you can get there too. Moreover, you can learn a new language. You could take online courses and go through the modules on your walk, or just brush up on your learning.
Prepare For The Day
Have a presentation to make? Need to do a little brainstorming? Have something to reflect? The walk is an excellent time for self-analysis and improvement. A large crowd might surround you, but you will still find yourself alone- in the best way!
Invest In Appropriate Gear
Shoes: There is nothing more annoying than uncomfortable shoes on your walk. Depending on your trail, find the apt footwear.
Clothing: If you are comfortable with the idea of changing in office, you can also invest in athleisure. But for the most part, good shoes should be enough.
Headset: Headphones are also a great addition to the walk. There is hardly a feeling more relaxing than zoning out to your world while enjoying a walk.
Pedometer: It can help you track your progress as you go. It helps you monitor not just the steps you take, but also other statistics like the number of calories burned. There is no better motivator than seeing progress every time. Fitbit is quite popular among walkers.
Weather Gear: You will want to protect yourself from the weather. Windproof jackets, umbrellas, hats, masks, goggles may be required as needed. Overall, it depends on the surrounding you walk in, and also your preference.
Walking Poles: Nordic walking is an activity that converts a regular walk into a full-body workout. It involves walking with a pole/stick. With this activity, you can maintain your posture and also lessen strain from your back. This exercise works your arms, shoulders, and back along with your lower body.
This form of meditation was traditional in various Buddhist practices. But due to its efficacy, it’s gaining popularity all over the world. You combine multiple techniques of breathing, taking steps, and other activities that result in a meditative state.
You can look up a type that suits you best. Further, various types of guided walking meditation are also available on the internet in the form of audio. You can start there first.
Once you get used to the idea of walking to work, there are so many things you can do to enrich the process. You can befriend a shopkeeper on the way to have small talk, or find someone to walk together. You could also start photographing your experiences and collect them in a single place.
Whatever hobby or interest you have- painting, foliage collecting, writing – you can combine it with the walk. What better muse than the outside after all? You could also explore other routes to work, and switch them up for a change. Just remember to have fun with the entire process.
READY TO WALK?
Here are some tips.
Before you start walking, know why you want to do it. You might be wanting to lose weight, be healthier, or just have fun. No two reasons are the same. You can list them all down. Optionally, you could just make a mental note. When you have a clear vision, it is easier to work towards achieving it. The reasons are also great if you feel de-motivated mid-way. You can always come back to remember why you started in the first place.
Another way to stay motivated is to monitor progress. Does it mean that you measure your weight on the scale every day? Or check your Blood Pressure frequently? No. You do not need to be obsessed with the destination. Above all, it is all about enjoying your journey. But if you do so occasionally, it can be an excellent source of motivation. Results can be in any form- how you feel throughout the day, your skin, your weight, or your appetite. Just observe the benefits every once in a while.
Eat like your life depends on it, because it does.
One cannot overstate the importance of a well-balanced diet. Stay hydrated. Try to include veggies in every meal. People who started walking have generally confessed to eating better. But the converse is true as well. Eating better will motivate you to work harder and help you stay on track. Plus, after all the hard work you are putting in, you deserve a good meal. Remember that you do not have to eat less or more, only eat right.
Lastly, do not rush.
Building new habits take time and consistency. You might not feel encouraged to walk every day. Sometimes, you might just be lazy. But do not feel overly guilty, or be discouraged. Believe in the larger picture. We all go a bit astray at times, but that’s okay. Just be patient. And remember to enjoy the journey to the fullest!
Life is like walking; you begin with one step at a time.
So next time you get ready for work, make sure that you have your walking shoes on!