Time to lace up those walking shoes! April 1 is Walk to Work Day (and no, that's not an April Fool's joke). Hopefully spring is in full swing where you live. Even if it's not, you can still brave the elements and enjoy the scenery of your city or suburb on your way into work. You'll get your heart pumping and your brain firing on all cylinders.
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Live too far away from work? Weather just downright nasty? If walking to work isn't an option, why not try a walk on your lunch break or in the middle of the afternoon to beat the 3 p.m. slump? Even a 15-minute walk will help you feel refocused and energized when you get back to your desk.
Why Walk to Work?
Need a little motivation to head out for work a bit earlier? We know, your bed is just so comfy! And yes, it's going to take a little extra energy to get up earlier and get on the move, but the end result will be a happier, healthier you. Here's how:
Burn Extra Calories:
Even if you take a leisurely pace, you can burn about 300 calories per hour (or between 80 to 160 calories per mile). To get a more accurate number, use a calorie calculator that takes your weight, height, gender and age into account.
Aid Weight-Loss Efforts:
Walking can be an easy way to jump-start weight loss. Just check out this success story from Ed M, who walked 40 minutes five times a week to help him lose 35 pounds.
Boost Your Mood:
Soak up the beauty of your city! Being outdoors (rather than in traffic) is a great way to clear your head and destress. It's a surefire way to start your day off with some happy endorphins pumping through your system.
Help Reduce Obesity Rates:
According to a 2010 study, Americans walk less than our counterparts in Australia, Switzerland and Japan. And those countries also have significantly lower rates of obesity and heart disease. Although it's hard to pinpoint one exact reason this is true, we can all do our part to help fight obesity by being a little more active each day.
Improve Your Overall Health:
Our editor-in-chief rounded up the latest research and found at least 31 health benefits to regular walking. Among these awesome benefits are a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, COPD, asthma, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis and back problems. Who doesn't want that?
Cut Down on Pollution:
You don't have to be a treehugger to want to do right by the environment. Walking to work instead of driving helps lessen your impact on the environment (biking does, too!). In fact, for every four miles you walk, you're keeping 15 pounds of pollutants out of the air. Plus, if you do it often enough, you'll also be saving money on gas.
Tips for Walking to Work
According to what users of our MyPlate Calorie Tracker app log, walking is (unsurprisingly) one of the activities you do the most. So if you're planning on walking to work, here are some tips to help you get the most of it.
Find Your Proper Posture:
It's true! How you walk can impact your energy level. If you walk hunched over, you can't fully fill your lungs, which cuts down on your oxygen supply and makes you feel tired. To combat this, walk with your shoulders back, spine straight and feet pointed ahead. As you step, roll from heel to toe (note the above graphic).
Make a Plan and Leave Early:
Yes, you can make it to work on time if you plan ahead. Map your route the night before and calculate how many miles it takes from your front door to your office. Give yourself 15 to 20 minutes for each mile, and then pad it with a little extra time to account for streetlights and other unexpected interruptions.
Make sure you bring along a water bottle, especially if you're going to be walking longer than 30 minutes or if it's very warm outside. It's a great way to take advantage of your walking time by getting a jump-start on the day's water consumption. And don't forget to fill it up before you leave the office for your walk home!
Be Prepared for Weather:
Sure, spring is beautiful, but it's also notorious for “April showers.” Make sure you check the weather report the night before and right before you leave. If there's even a chance of rain, grab an umbrella just in case.
Have a Backup Plan:
Have a friend on call or be prepared to call and Uber or Lyft if you do hit inclement weather or leave the office super late and just can't muster the energy to walk back. Whatever the reason for needing a ride, it's better to be safe than sorry!
Get Ready at Work:
Chances are, you might be a little sweatier than usual when you get to work. So before you sit down at your desk, do your colleagues a favor and take a chance to cool down. If your office has showers, you could take one or bring along cleansing wipes and extra deodorant. Just go easy on the perfume or cologne, please.
Get Geared Up
Even though walking is one of the best free exercises you can do, you might need some (or all) of these walking essentials to help you take full advantage of your walk to work.
Find Comfortable Shoes:
Save your heels and dress shoes for the office. Both your feet and your shoes will thank you. Instead, grab a pair of walking shoes with plenty of support. Try a pair like Hoka One One's Clifton 2 or Prospecs walking shoes. Or if you're looking for shoes you can wear all day long, try a pair of slip-on Bzees, which are comfortable enough to wear on your walk but cute enough to wear around the office.
Make Your Steps Count:
Track the number of steps you take with either a fitness band like FitBit or a Jawbone UP or make sure your iPhone's health tracker app is up and running. You can also use apps like Moves or Breeze to track your daily steps. Or try an app like MapMyWalk, Strava or LIVESTRONG.COM's Loops to map your walking in miles.
Prep a Playlist:
To break up the silence on your walk (or to drown out the city sounds), bring along your music player or smartphone and jam out to some tunes. We have plenty of sample playlists, including ones that celebrate the '80s and '90s, a rockin' workout playlist or one filled with some unexpected songs. You could also try a podcast or audiobook to pass the time.
Make Sure You're Seen:
If you're leaving your house before the sun comes up (or leaving your office after it goes down), be sure to make safety a priority. Grab a jacket with reflective stripes or consider reflective badges like the ones from Safe Flash, which you can attach to just about anything with the velcro on the back. Wearing light-colored clothing and walking on the parts of the sidewalk where you're not hidden by bushes will increase your visibility to drivers, too.
Grab a Bag:
Just like the Boy Scouts, it's important to be prepared. The night before you leave for work, pack a backpack with everything you'll need when you get to work that you don't want to walk in. These can include cleansing wipes, deodorant, an extra pair of shoes (socks if needed), a change of clothes (maybe even an extra bra or change of underwear), a small snack and your water bottle.
What Do YOU Think?
Are you going to be walking to work on April 1? Have you ever walked to work before? Or do you take walk breaks at lunch? What's your favorite time of day to go for a walk? Do you take a friend, coworker or pet with you? Share your thoughts, stories and questions in the comments section below!