Many people who work are looking for alternatives to commuting by car due to the regular traffic jams, stress and costs involved. One possible alternative for many people is walking to work, at least some of the way.
Why should you walk to work? Walking to work adds a valuable amount of physical activity to your day and helps you to save spending on transport for your commute. Added to this, you might even feel more positive about your day as walking to work makes some people feel more alert and positive when they arrive at work.
Also, by not driving, you will be making the roads safer and helping to improve air quality by having one less car or gas-powered vehicle on the road at rush hour. This is particularly important in big cities in most Western countries, where the air quality can be dangerously poor on many days of the year.
Is walking to work enough exercise?
Walking to work can be a positive addition to a healthy and active lifestyle and, given that it is something you can do most days of the year, will provide you with a regular and positive amount of physical activity.
In a 2018 panel of 5 experts, 4 felt that walking alone was enough exercise for adults. They stated that walking helps with many aspects of our physical and mental wellbeing. They also added that walking quickly or walking up hills can be an effective way to include some of the more intense types of physical activity that are recommended for adults as part of a healthy and physically active lifestyle.
One panelist stated that walking was particularly good for health if done for periods of 10 minutes of more in one go. For an average adult, this would be the equivalent of walking for just over half a mile, based on the usual adult walking speed of 3mph. So, if your journey is more than 0.5 miles, you are likely to gain positively from walking to work on a regular basis.
Of course, the other exercise you do in other parts of your life will help you to increase your levels of physical activity too.
You should also consider the type of journey you would have when doing your ‘walk commute’ as having hills on your route will make commuting on foot even more beneficial for your health.
Is walking 3 miles a day good?
Walking 3 miles a day will add a very positive amount of physical activity to your day. This would be the equivalent of walking for 1 hour for most adults.
So, if you have a 1.5 mile commute each way, it should take you approximately 30 minutes each way to walk to work. This would then total up to walking 3 miles a day.
Including walking 3 miles in your work day is a very positive addition to a lifestyle as it is something you could do on most days of the year.
Most physical activity and fitness guidelines for adults recommend walking at least 30 minutes per day, which would be approximately walking 1 and a half miles each day. So, if you are walking 3 miles a day, you would be doing double this amount, which will very likely be a positive for adults in terms of their physical fitness and wellbeing.
Walk to Work Day USA: When is it and what happens?
Walk to Work Day in the USA happens every year on the first Friday in April. It is an optional event (or ‘unofficial holiday’) that encourages people to make a walking journey to work to help them see the health and cost benefits of walking, and also to help reduce car use for various reasons. This should not be confused with National Walking Day, which is organised by the American Heart Association (AHA) on the first Wednesday in April, which may or may not come before Walk to Work Day, depending on how the calendar falls in a given year. National Walking Day has a very similar idea behind to Walk to Work Day, but with more of a focus on getting people to walk for reasons of improving heart health and other related issues.
How far do people walk to work?
It’s hard to put an estimate on how far people walk to work on average, but it seems likely that most people will walk to work from anywhere between a few hundred yards to 3 miles each day.
One study found that walking to work for a quarter of a mile each way was an acceptable walking distance for US adults, although longer journeys than this were very common among those participating in the study.
If we also note that the average walking speed is just over 3mph for adults, and that the average car commute for US adults takes 26.1 minutes, then we can guess that most adults will likely feel happy walking to work up to 1 and a quarter miles each way as this would mean the same time spent walking as most people spend in a car on their commute.
Of course, this is not proven or exact, but it seems fair to assume that walk commuting up to 1.25 miles would suit most people.
That said, if you have to carry a heavy bag as part of your walk to work, then you will likely feel that walking 1 and a quarter miles for your commute will be a little bit too much!
Try out your journey and see how you get on as you might find that you can build up to walking all of your way to work, or that you can do it easily already.
The more you do it, the easier it will become!
Is it OK to walk to work in uniform?
It should be fine for most workers to walk to work in uniform, although there are some likely exceptions. If you have a mostly flat journey, and your job does not require a specific uniform for hygiene reasons, then you should be fine. Likewise, if you have a journey of a mile or less and up to 30 minutes to walk it, then you should feel quite comfortable walking to work in uniform.
However, walking quicky, up hills, with a heavy bag, in formal shoes, or in extreme weather are all likely to cause you a few problems on a walk commute journey.
This is because going uphill or walking briskly is more likely to make you sweat, something you probably don’t want to do on your journey to work in uniform for hygiene reasons! The higher intensity of walking uphill or quickly on your commute means that, although you will get more of a workout from this activity, your body temperature will increase to the point of likely causing you to sweat.
Wearing a backpack can also cause your back to sweat while walking to work, even if it is designed for ventilation. This is because it restricts the air flow on and around your back as you wear it, meaning that the part of your back touching the backpack will heat up more than other areas and again lead to sweating in your work clothes.
Walking in formal or work shoes could cause you a problem as smart shoes designed for office environments are usually not very well designed for walking in. This is because it is expected that not much walking will be done in these shoes, so the manufacturers do not design them in this way.
If ladies walk to work in high heels, this will almost inevitably cause problems for feet and joints and are not recommended by foot experts for this reason.
Even walking in flat-soled leather shoes might cause some pain or discomfort as these often have very little cushioning, so think about this when deciding to walk to work in your uniform.
You could also buy some suitable work shoes that have extra padding or support to enable you to walk to work in them. The other alternative is to leave a pair of work shoes under your desk or somewhere safe in your office and simply change into them when you arrive. This would allow you to wear your most comfortable and supportive shoes while walking to work, avoiding the pain and problems mentioned above.