Walking is one of the best ways to get us up and moving and get some exercise in our daily routines. Most Americans, sadly, will drive, take mass transit, or get a car service rather than using their own two feet to get from point A to point B. Instead, we could look to our friends in other parts of the world where walking to work or to do a little shopping is the norm. In fact, a 2010 study at the University of Tennessee Obesity Research Center in Knoxville found that adults in the United States average just over 5,100 steps per day, compared to Australian residents who average nearly 9,700 daily steps and Swiss citizens who average 9,650.1 Bassett, David R., Jr.; et al. “Pedometer-Measured Physical Activity and Health Behaviors in U.S. Adults.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. October 2010. Accessed 22 March 2017. http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Abstract/2010/10000/Pedometer_Measured_Physical_Activity_and_Health.4.aspx.
If you live within walking distance of your workplace, try walking to work (there is even a national holiday for added encouragement–April 6th is Walk to Work Day). For those who live too far to attempt walking to work, there are plenty of other ways to incorporate more walking into your day, beginning right now. Read on for six ideas that can get you started.
Park Farther Away
If you have to drive to your destination—whether it’s to work or for errand running or to visit a friend—park as far as you reasonably can. Rather than weaving in and out of the aisles to search for a spot closest to the entrance, park in one of the farthest spaces way across the lot. You’ll get a few minutes of exercise in and, as an added bonus, you’ll probably have plenty of spots to choose from.
Walk on the Job
You may not be able to walk to work, but you can certainly walk while you’re there. Especially if you have a desk job, it is essential to get up at least once an hour and take a walk. Do a couple of laps around the building, and if there are stairs available, skip the elevator every time you have to travel between floors.
Combine Walking With Mass Transit
If you typically take a train or bus to work, get off a stop or two earlier than usual. You’re still getting close to your workplace, but can add an extra 15 or 20 minutes of healthy walking on the way.
Put Lunchtime to Good Use
Rather than sitting at a table in a restaurant or in the office break room for lunch every day, use that time to get a little exercise. Recruit your work friends to join you. It’s easy enough to bring a salad or sandwich from home—which is also an opportunity to eat a little more nutritiously—and spend the better part of your lunch hour on a walk.
Schedule a Walking Meeting
If you have a say in your departmental meetings, try to skip the conference room and schedule a meeting on the go. You can walk around the outside of the building or to a nearby park if possible, and brainstorm as you go. A 2016 study at the University of Miami in Florida showed that changing just one meeting a week from sitting to walking helped increase the moderate to vigorous activity levels for largely sedentary employees.2 Kling, Hannah E.; et al. “Opportunities for Increased Physical Activity in the Workplace: the Walking Meeting Pilot Study, Miami, 2015.” Preventing Chronic Disease. 23 June 2016. Accessed 23 March 2017. http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2016/16_0111.htm.
Take an Evening Stroll
If you can’t find a way to walk to work or while you’re at work, there’s always the option to do your walking later in the day. On a beautiful spring evening, what could be nicer than a sunset walk to burn off some of those dinner calories? And there’s no rush to get back to a night of television watching, so take a nice long route and make it a regular habit.
And for those of you who absolutely hate walking, there’s always cycling—something that a lot of countries take to heart.3 “Top 10 Countries with Most Bicycles per Capita.” TOP10HELL. 3/14/11, (Accessed 23 Mar 2017.) http://top10hell.com/top-10-countries-with-most-bicycles-per-capita/
|Bassett, David R., Jr.; et al. “Pedometer-Measured Physical Activity and Health Behaviors in U.S. Adults.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. October 2010. Accessed 22 March 2017. http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Abstract/2010/10000/Pedometer_Measured_Physical_Activity_and_Health.4.aspx.
|Kling, Hannah E.; et al. “Opportunities for Increased Physical Activity in the Workplace: the Walking Meeting Pilot Study, Miami, 2015.” Preventing Chronic Disease. 23 June 2016. Accessed 23 March 2017. http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2016/16_0111.htm.
|“Top 10 Countries with Most Bicycles per Capita.” TOP10HELL. 3/14/11, (Accessed 23 Mar 2017.) http://top10hell.com/top-10-countries-with-most-bicycles-per-capita/