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walking to work

11 Benefits Of Walking To Work

While you may never have considered it before, walking to work is hugely beneficial, and allows you to start your working day with invigorating and refreshing exercise. Not only that, but it brings with it a host of benefits for your overall health, as well as being a positive life choice.

But what exactly are those benefits? 

We’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to all the best benefits of walking to work, and whether you’re a keen walker or just getting started, you’ll be able to experience all of these advantages, and start your day off on the right foot. 

We’ll also touch upon what you’ll need to experience these walking to work benefits, including any necessary gear, precautions you may need to be aware of, and the factors to consider before you set off each morning.

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11 Benefits of Walking to Work

#1 - Improves Your Overall Fitness

While this may seem self-explanatory, or a more obvious benefit of walking to work, it’s hugely important to recognise how much of an impact walking to work can have on your overall fitness levels.

When we walk (whether that’s walking to work, strolling to the shops, or just up and down the stairs at home), the blood flow around our body increases, and reaches areas it otherwise wouldn’t have. This is particularly beneficial because the majority of your body’s joint cartilage has no direct blood supply. 

This cartilage gets that majority of its nutrition from joint fluid that circulates as we move. Movement and compression from walking compresses the cartilage, bringing oxygen and vital nutrients into the area, and allowing much more freedom of movement.

In turn, this can help to strengthen your bones, decrease muscular pain and stiffness, and even improve your balance and posture, all key components of your overall fitness level. Read more on the benefits of good posture with our complete exploration

You’ll also notice improvements to your lung capacity, as well as your overall stamina levels. As with most exercise, the more you walk, the better your endurance will be - you’ll be able to walk for longer, and at a much faster pace.

#2 - Burns Excess Calories

Perhaps one of the most well-recognised benefits of walking to work, as well as walking as part of your usual exercise or leisure routine, is that it can help to burn excess calories, and ultimately aid in your weight loss journey.

Walking is a moderate intensity exercise, and incorporating that into your commute (a time that you may not usually associate with an opportunity for weight loss) can mean that you compound all the benefits of walking, as well as including it at a previously unused time.

This is further supported by a recent study, which concluded that a daily commute is an excellent way to provide the body with moderate exercise, and an opportunity to burn calories effectively. 

Furthermore, one of the key benefits of walking to work is that it prevents muscle loss, so you don’t have to worry about losing muscle - walking will specifically target fat, and aid in burning calories.

To learn more about walking for weight loss, OriGym have compiled a comprehensive tip guide on how you can maximise your fat burn

Ultimately, walking to work is a significant contribution towards a healthy lifestyle, and implementing sustainable, meaningful changes.

#3 - Improves Function Of Your Immune System

Perhaps one of the more subtle benefits of walking to work is that it can help to strengthen your immune system. This is your body’s natural defence system, and protects against viral infections and illnesses that can affect the body, causing colds and flus to develop.

Exercise causes change in antibodies and white blood cells (white blood cells are the body's immune system cells that fight disease). After exercise, these antibodies and white blood cells circulate more rapidly, so they could detect illnesses earlier than they might have before. 

It is thought that the brief rise in body temperature during and right after walking may also prevent bacteria from growing. This temperature rise may help the body fight infection better, meaning that walking to work could make you less susceptible to illnesses.

This protection against falling ill is perhaps one the biggest benefits of walking to work, especially when combined with the right diet of immunity boosting foods, and a consistent exercise schedule.

Exercise has also been proven to naturally help you sleep better, which is ideal if you’ve got a difficult day ahead, and a good night’s sleep will help to prepare effectively. Sleeping well is also exceptionally beneficial for the mind as well as the body, providing you with increased clarity and sharpness for the day ahead.

#4 - Boosts Your Energy And Motivation

We expend energy throughout our day, regardless of what we’re doing, and how intensive those activities are. Walking to work can help to provide additional energy for the day ahead, and provide you with renewed motivation, regardless of what you’ve got planned.

While work is often a dull prospect for many people, walking to work (as opposed to commuting via public transportation or car) can help you adopt a more positive mindset, as well as boosting your energy levels.

It’s also important to note that, with every walk you complete, you’ll gain a natural boost of energy through the enhanced circulation and oxygen supply around your body. Your body will gradually get used to the regular exercise, allowing it to naturally preserve more energy. 

This additional energy can then be used throughout your day, as well as preparing you for your return journey home.

And not only will you have much improved physical health, you’ll also notice a significant improvement in your mental health, too. While exercise and psychological wellbeing are closely linked (learn more in our complete guide to the mental health benefits of running), walking to work can allow you to compound those advantages.

#5 - Counteracts Stress

Perhaps one of the main benefits of walking to work (especially if you’re in a particularly challenging industry or job) is that it can aid in reducing stress levels, and easing the symptoms we’d associate with high stress levels. 

As we walk (whether that’s walking to work or otherwise), or exercise in any way, our body releases endorphins, often referred to as the body’s “happy chemicals”. These are often what determine our mood, and help us to overcome any unhappiness or difficulty, especially relating to stress.

By walking to work, you’ll not only help to relieve any lingering stress about things that have already passed, but you’ll also be less stressed about the day ahead, which is crucial if you’re particularly apprehensive about going into work.

Walking to work can also help you to cope with anxiety and other mental health issues, giving you the opportunity to be mindful, and focus on yourself. Couple this with the benefits of meditation, and you’ll be able to relieve any difficulties you’ve been carrying around. 

While this isn’t necessarily one of the first benefits of walking to work that we might think of, it can be incredibly important, especially if you’re holding on to stress or worries. 

#6 - Better For The Environment

While not one of the benefits of walking to work that will affect you personally, it’s hugely important to recognise the global impact of choosing to walk to work over commuting, or using public transport.

It’s easy to underestimate our own contribution when it comes to climate change and the effect on the environment, but by choosing more eco-conscious options (such as walking to work), we can make huge changes.

One of the more important considerations when it comes to how you get to work is your carbon footprint. Your carbon emissions will be quite high if you drive, especially if you get stuck in traffic, or are held up on the roads. While public transport produces lower emissions, your carbon emissions will be zero if you choose to walk to work.

The reduction in pollution levels has far-reaching positive consequences, and can even provide a more pleasant environment for you to walk in. However, perhaps one of the counterpoints to this benefit is that there’s little way to visualise your own carbon footprint.

Fortunately, if you like to use devices like smart watches, or walking apps on your phone, you’ll gain a clearer picture of how much you’re walking, and even how much you are helping the environment.

You might also choose an app that pays you to walk, which provides monetary incentives to get you out of the car, or off the bus, and walking to work instead.

#7 - Reduces Your Transport Expenses

One of the major benefits of walking to work (especially when compared to cars or public transport) is that it is completely free. While this may seem relatively obvious, it’s a hugely important consideration, and one that can make all the difference.

Not only will you be able to avoid costly ticket prices for the bus or train, you won’t need to budget for ongoing car maintenance, insurance, petrol, and any toll or congestion charges you incur along your route.

While cycling to work is a fantastic way to keep fit (learn more in OriGym’s complete guide to cycling uphill), as well as offering a consistent way to build muscle, it’s simply not as cost effective as walking to work. 

A bike can cost upwards of hundreds of pounds, especially if you’re looking to purchase one of the best electric folding bikes, or a particularly advanced model. While there are cheaper models available, it may not be economically viable for everyone.

There’s also the potential cost of repairs or upkeep costs, especially if you opt for a more affordable model, or one that’s been previously owned. For a more budget-friendly alternative, walking to work presents itself as a clear choice.

It might also be considered safer to walk to work rather than cycle, especially as you’ll be able to use pavements and pedestrianised areas that bikes aren’t allowed to use, and therefore won’t need to risk riding on the roads.

#8 - Avoid Rush Hour

While it can be much easier to drive to work, perhaps one of the biggest benefits of walking to work is that it means you can completely cut out the waiting times that come along with rush hour. 

It can be incredibly disheartening to be stuck in traffic following a difficult day at work, or face a long journey home on the train or bus. Walking to work eliminates those issues immediately, and allows you time to calm down, reflect on the day, and improve your mood.

As we’ve already examined, walking to work can significantly improve your mental health, and doing the same on the way home only compounds those benefits. There’s even scientific evidence to support this.

One recent study examined the profound benefits of walking to work, discovering that, given its familiarity and accessibility, it’s a perfect option for workers of any age, and can even allow work to be completed to a much higher standard.

This improvement in work may also have a positive effect on your mental health, allowing you to complete tasks and work with increased clarity, and meaning you don’t need to dwell on anything unfinished.

#9 - Allows You To Relax & Reflect

It can be tempting, especially if you live a more significant distance away from your place of work, to rely on a car or public transport. We’d still encourage walking to work, especially as that time can give you opportunity for introspection, and to relax.

You’re able to catch up with the latest podcasts, listen to an audiobook, or simply enjoy music and your surroundings, especially if you’re walking through a particularly beautiful area. 

While you are able to enjoy your choice of soundscape while on public transport, too, it’s actually beneficial to use music whilst walking or running. We’ve performed a complete study to answer the question of whether running with music can aid your performance.

Walking to work every day can not only help you clear your head, and organise your mind before getting to work, but it offers an opportunity to meditate, and adopt a calmer mindset before you get to your place of work.  

Although you move slower than if you would in a car, bus or train, it’s an opportunity to take in the world around you. Exploring nature is one of the many benefits of walking to work, and exercising outdoors with fresh air is an ideal way to provide your lungs with a boost.

#10 - Get Into A Healthy Routine

We’ve already touched upon how walking to work every day can improve your overall fitness levels, and make you more accustomed to the exercise that you’re completing. However, one of the further benefits of walking to work is that it becomes part of the routine you complete every morning.

You no longer have to give the common excuse that you don’t have time to exercise, because walking to and from work can act as your daily workout, although we would encourage completing this as part of a schedule that includes a balanced diet, as well as the benefits of regular exercise.

While recommendations on what a weekly quota of exercise should look like, it’s estimated that 30 minutes per day is a reasonable amount for most people. By walking to work every day, you’ll be able to accommodate that comfortably.

Walking to work also doesn’t need to be a solo activity - one of the benefits of walking to work is that you don’t have to do it on your own. You could invite a work colleague along with you to make the walk easier and make it a regular chance to communicate.

Making your daily walk to work a social opportunity can mean that any boredom or monotony is eliminated, as well as meaning that you’ve got another reason to walk to work each morning. 

#11 - Improve Work Performance

While this is more of an overarching benefit of walking to work, in that all of our previous benefits tie together to create this, it’s crucially important to mention, especially as it can significantly improve your overall productivity at work and at home.

As your mood and energy levels have been boosted by your walk, it will help find more enjoyment from your job, and even achieve more as you do so. 

Walking to work will allow you to clear your head, and feel more confident in tackling any problem that gets thrown at you throughout the day. A lot of the usual stress you encounter on your way to work should be eradicated, and you should start to appreciate your job more.

Physical activity (even something as simple as walking to work every day) doesn’t just have a profound effect on your physical health, it can significantly improve your mental health, too. A clearer mind can mean better performance at work, as well as improved focus and creativity overall.

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If you’re enjoying this article so far, here are 3 more we think you’ll find useful

How To Start Walking To Work

#1 - Choosing the Right Gear

When you first start walking to work, it can be difficult to work out what you need to wear, and how you can best prepare for it. The honest answer is that, unless you have a particularly difficult route to work, you don’t need a separate change of clothes.

While you won’t need a completely separate outfit, it might be a good idea to bring a change of shoes with you, so you can change back into your usual work shoes once you reach the office. We’d suggest a pair of cushioned running shoes for ultimate comfort, or more sturdy trainers if you’re on rougher terrain.

You might also want to consider deodorant or antiperspirant, especially on warmer days. Although it is best to just walk in your work clothes, on some days you might have to protect what you wear when walking to work because of the weather. 

Many people might decide to just wear a waterproof coat when it is raining, or a thick winter jacket when it is snowing, but a lot of commuters forget to cover their lower half of the body. You don’t want to sit in an office all day in wet pants, or a drenched skirt. 

Cover up your legs with a pair of the best waterproof trousers, then take them off when you arrive at your workplace to ensure you stay dry and comfortable throughout the day. Trainers that offer good water protections (such as some of the best waterproof trail running shoes) may also be a good idea for wet weather days.

#2 - Plan Your Route

Perhaps one of the most important aspects to think about when walking to work is how you’ll get there. We’d strongly advise you to ensure that you plan out your route to work, especially if you’re not familiar with the area.

This will not only allow you to analyse where you’ll be walking (if you’ll be going through heavily built up areas, or more rural routes, for instance) but also how long it might take, as well as what the terrain could be like.

These answers can also influence what you’ll need to buy (as we touched upon above), but understanding where you’ll be walking also means it can become a much safer route, and one that you feel comfortable taking. 

It’s crucial to analyse your options. One of the benefits of walking to work is that you can explore different routes, and really get to know both your neighbourhood and work surroundings. 

We’d advise using a walking or running app (we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the best running apps for beginners) to map out your route to work, and learn about what you might need.

#3 - Check With A Doctor If Necessary

Many people might see walking to work every day as a chance to benefit from one or all of the numerous things we have mentioned on our list, and that’s completely understandable. However, it is crucial to check with your doctor if you feel as though this might put you at risk.

One of our walking to work tips is to make sure you are physically capable of walking to work, especially if you’ve got previous injuries that impede your ability to walk properly, or a pre-existing condition that limits the distance you can walk.

This could include issues like bone density problems (such as arthritis), cardiovascular issues, foot or leg complaints, or any other condition that inhibits your ability to walk longer distances.

If you feel as though you might suffer from any one of these conditions, and therefore walking to work wouldn’t be a viable option, it’s imperative that you speak to your doctor before trying to. We’d suggest that you plot out the distance, and explain the route to a medical professional so that they can provide an opinion.

You might also want to consider investing in specific fitness tech to help you understand your vital signs - explore the top options with our comprehensive guide to the best wearable heart rate monitors to track your data.

While walking to work is a low intensity exercise, it may not always be suitable, and it’s incredibly important to double check whether it’s suitable for you and your fitness levels.

#3 - Set Off Earlier

While this may be obvious, it’s important to note that (in the vast majority of cases), walking will take you longer to get to work than if you were to drive or get public transport. This can, of course, have a significant impact on the time you leave at, and the time you’ll arrive at work.

Make sure to wake up slightly earlier and start your morning routine earlier, so you can leave the house at an appropriate time to fit your walk in. This includes adjusting any obligations you might have, such as gym sessions, breakfast, and even walking the dog.

However, this is arguably one of the most crucial tips on our list, in that it influences how leisurely and enjoyable your walk to work can be.

If you risk leaving it too late, or don’t leave enough time, you can end up running to work. While there are numerous benefits of running to work, walking to work offers much more time for introspection, and is arguably a better option if you’re looking to calm down, and practice breathing techniques ahead of a tough day. 

Walking to work every day also helps to establish a routine that better fits your morning schedule, and one that can form the foundation of a healthy and sustainable routine.

#4 - Look At The Weather Forecast

While this may be something you already do as part of your morning routine, it takes on a much greater importance when you consider it in relation to walking to work, especially if your route is longer, or incorporates rougher, off-road terrain.

The weather can often be fickle, or unpredictable, and checking the forecast allows you to make allowances of that weather, and therefore dress accordingly. For instance, if the weather is predicting heavy rain or snow, you may need to wear appropriate clothing.

A high quality raincoat, as well as some waterproof trail running shoes if you’re heading through a more rural route, means you’ll avoid any water damage to your clothes, and mean you won’t need to spend the day in damp clothing.

If you’re often unsure of what to wear walking to work, then often the weather can decide for you. For instance, you might want to consider looser, more breathable clothing if it’s a hot day, or warmer layers during winter months. 

We’d strongly advise considering your walk to be an integral part of your day, and wear clothing that’s not only comfortable but practical, too. However, always ensure that this fits with your work’s dress code.

#5 - Keep Hydrated

Staying hydrated is absolutely crucial to staying healthy, and ensuring our body can function as effectively as possible. The right amount of hydration improves everything from our cognitive capabilities, to our digestive health, and even our mood.

Hydrating properly before you walk to work is an absolute must. Many of us will drink a cup of coffee or fruit juice before we set off for the day, but it could be a good idea to drink a glass of water before you set off to ensure you’re fully hydrated.

A great walking to work tip could be to take a reusable bottle with you. You can drink water on the way, and then fill it up throughout the day at work. We’ve compiled a complete list of the best running water bottles, with options to suit every budget and taste.

Not only is it convenient, but having your own water bottle can also allow you to meet the suggested requirement of 2 litres of water per day, which is often said to vastly improve how your body functions, and even provide significant benefit to the immune system.

You’ll also be able to fill it up just before you leave the office for your return journey, ensuring you can replenish any lost fluids through sweat, and maintain that high level of hydration on your way home, too.

Frequently Asked Questions

What If I Live Too Far Away From Work?

For many, this is a sticking point when it comes to walking to work, and it’s entirely understandable that you’d perhaps be more reluctant to walk to work if you live a significant distance away.

There are solutions to this problem, which often involve combining both a commute and a walk to work. These will then provide the best of both worlds, and ensure that you can receive all the benefits of walking to work, without needing to commit to walking an unattainable or unrealistic distance.

You could possibly park further away from your workplace if you’re able, or get off the bus or train at an earlier stop. This way you’ll use up less fuel, reduce your carbon footprint, and be able to build in exercise. 

You’ll also save yourself money, especially as you won’t need to spend as much on public transport or petrol costs, and can use this to invest in one of the best running watches to ensure you’re always aware of your vital signs.

If walking to work every day isn’t possible, we’d suggest making the most of your lunch breaks, and using this time to go for a walk. Use your office’s location to your advantage, especially if you work near a park or trail. You might also opt to go that little bit further for your mid-morning coffee or to buy your lunch.

Can I Jog Instead of Walk?

While you can opt to jog to work, it doesn’t offer the same range of benefits that walking to work offers, and can often be detrimental to the day you’ve got ahead of you, especially as jogging will expend significantly more energy than walking.

Firstly, you’d have to consider what to wear when running to work, especially as you won’t be able to run in your work clothes - jogging is a much more intense form of exercise than walking, and will mean you sweat more, which could potentially affect your usual work clothes.

You’ll also lose out on being able to relax before you start work, which is arguably one of the biggest benefits of walking to work. Jogging is far more likely to tire you out before your day even starts. 

However, jogging to work can be a great option for those who find walking too easy, or are seeking to progress towards a more intensive and strenuous journey to work. Learn more in our complete overview of running to work, and how you can transition from walking to jogging as effectively as possible.

 

Before You Go!

While it may seem a daunting prospect at first, the benefits of walking to work far outweigh any possible downsides, and can revolutionise how you approach your day. You’ll have more energy, a more positive mindset, and even save a significant amount over driving or taking public transport.

Whether you’re going to walk the whole distance to the office, or combine walking to work with a short drive or trip on the train, you’ll be making a sustainable healthy lifestyle choice that can have a huge impact.

But if you’re already completely confident in meaningful healthy choices, and are looking to impart your knowledge, then perhaps a personal training career could be your next step.

OriGym’s industry leading personal training diploma offers the ultimate package, with expert guidance available 7 days a week, free examination resits, a huge library of bespoke resources and materials, and a guaranteed interview upon graduation.

If you’re interested, submit an enquiry to our dedicated team today, or click here to download our comprehensive FREE prospectus and read more about what we offer, as well as how it could work for you.

 

References:

  1. Audrey, S., Procter, S. & Cooper, A.R. The contribution of walking to work to adult physical activity levels: a cross sectional study. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 11, 37 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1186/1479-5868-11-37

Written by Joshua Birchall

Freelance Fitness Writer & Expert

Josh holds a BA (Hons) in Film Studies with Creative Writing from Edge Hill University, combining his love for movies with his passion for writing. His passion brought him to OriGym, where he enjoys writing content blogs on all things health and fitness related.
Josh keeps himself active through long-distance running,  participating in HIIT workouts at his local gym playing football and playing tennis
for Ormskirk Tennis Club.

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