May is the UK’s National Walk to Work month and with it comes a great chance to get fit, boost your daily productivity and bring in an overall improvement in your life without a huge change to your lifestyle. Physical activity specialist at the British heart foundation Lisa Young explains that ‘walking is a fantastic way to keep active and maintain a healthy hearty as it is fun, flexible and free.’ But the improvements aren’t just limited to your personal life – they can improve your business as well.
The 3 major benefits of walking to work:
- Energizing. Exercising increases blood flow, boosts your circulation and increases the oxygen supply to the cells in your body. This increase in oxygenated blood flow directly affects your brain, thus increasing your alertness and keeping you sharp.
- Physical wellbeing. Walking – as with all exercise – strengthens your heart, reducing the risk of heart disease and strokes. The average person will burn around 75 calories simply by walking at 2mph for 30 minutes; increasing the speed to 3mph will grow that to 99 calories and 4mph ups it again 150 calories. The resulting benefits of this have a positive effect on all aspects of your life, as working on personal physical wellbeing is known to lift morale throughout the day.
- Mental wellbeing. As important a benefit as physical fitness, exercise will boost your mental energy. Studies show that a brisk walk is just as effective as antidepressants in a mild to moderate case of depression, releasing feel-good endorphins while reducing stress and anxiety. If long days at work, endless meetings and a heavy workload have been getting you down, just walking home could be the thing to pull you out of your bad mood.
With all of these personal benefits, it’s interesting to see the huge impact that having a physically fit workforce could have on a business. The statistics on the cost of ill-health to employers are shocking: on average absence due to sickness costs around $2000/£1500 per employee, whilst the annual cost to the UK of sick days resulting from ill-health is $10.5/£8.1 billion. When an employee suffers from poor mental health – for example anxiety, depression or stress – the average number of days lost that relate to this episode is 24, a monumental total cost for something that can be prevented by something as simple as walking to work.
If you take up walking to work this month, how can you keep it up after this time has passed? A great way to see how quickly these benefits are accruing is by investing in a wearable fitness tracker. Devices like the FitBit Blaze have dedicated modes for tracking your steps and how many calories you burn in relation to them. Seeing your progress mount up over the month will only compound your commitment to keeping up your new regime long after walk to work month has finished.
Read more about Walking to Work Month and join thousands who have pledged to #Try20. This requires just walking for 20 minutes extra each day and if done before work, you will certainly feel the benefits throughout your working day. Don’t just give wellbeing lip service by talking the fitness talk. Walk the walk this month.