According to government guidelines, adults need at least 150 minutes exercise a week but many of us struggle to build this level of physical activity into our busy lives – 39% of us don’t, according to the British Heart Foundation.
Walking short, local journeys is a simple, free and easy way to boost your activity levels.
Here are some top tips to build more walking into your daily routine, as compiled by the team behind West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s £60m CityConnect programme, aimed at encouraging more people to travel on foot or by bike.
1. Do you really need to drive all the way?
Is there a journey you make most days by car or public transport?
Whether it’s a commute to work, college or to the shops; why not park a bit further away or get off a couple of stops earlier and walk the rest of the way?
Remember it only takes 20 minutes to walk a mile (steady pace) and walking for one hour a day can cut your risk of obesity by half.
2. Take your coffee for a walk
Do all of your meetings need to be held inside?
Instead of sitting in a meeting room or coffee shop, grab your insulated coffee mug and take it for a walk with colleagues or a client. A change of scenery could get you feeling inspired and thinking more creatively plus with the release of endorphins from walking you’ll be feeling pumped up and ready to crack on when you return to the office. Why not record your meeting on your phone so that you don’t have to worry about making notes as you walk.
Did you know that just 30 minutes of walking a day can reduce the symptoms of depression by 36%? Walking meetings are the way forward for a happy team.
3. Boost your social life
Walking is a great social activity; catch up with an old friend, bond with a new colleague, get to know your neighbours or enjoy some quality time with family. You don’t have to climb a mountain each time, just go for a wander close by and explore your local area together whilst having a natter, you could try a new route each week.
Only 75 minutes of walking per week can add almost 2 years to your life, that’s an extra two years of chatting!
4. It’s all about having more ‘foot time’
Make a pledge to walk more, swap some car-time for foot-time, save some cash and when you’re feeling motivated set yourself a target, and then shout it from the rooftops, family, friends, colleagues should all know you’re doing this and why, then at time when you’re not as motivated they can remind you.
Just 40 minutes of walking 3 times a week protects the brain region associated with planning and memory – remember that!
5. Try the Lunch Exclusion Zone challenge
The lunch exclusion zone is anywhere less than a 15 minute walk away from your workplace. So why not venture further this lunchtime to see what other delights you can find outside of the 15 minute exclusion zone whilst fitting in some refreshing exercise before returning back to your desk.
Take some tips from Living Streets on how to take on the Lunch Exclusion Zone challenge.
5. Borrow a dog
Does your neighbour, friend or someone in your family have a dog? Most dogs wouldn’t say no to an extra walk each day or week, so why not offer to take them out. You’ll get all the health benefits of having a dog without the commitment.
Just 2 hours of walking per week can reduce your risk of stroke by 30%, so grab the L.E.A.D and take a dog for W.A.L.K.I.E.S.
For more tips on how to walk more check visit the Living Streets website.
These are just a few of our tips, but if you’re not quite convinced then don’t just take our word for it….
Visit Living Streets – The UK Charity for everyday walking, on a mission to create a ‘Walking Nation’ through activity, campaigning, projects and much more, they even manage our CityConnect Walking Project across West Yorkshire. It was due to these guys that the UK’s first Zebra Crossing was installed, 85 years ago!
The Ramblers website has some seriously convincing facts illustrating why walking can make a huge difference.
Take a look at the Walking for Health website, an initiative of the British Heart Foundation and the Countryside Agency which encourages people to get active and stay active for the abundance of health benefits this brings.
With all of the beautiful waterways we have in West Yorkshire, a visit to the Canal and River Trust website is a must. Their Walking for Heath page also describes how using these waterways can help keep you de-stress and improve your overall health.
Walkit.com– walking directions in and around Bradford, Leeds, Wakefield and York.
www.walkonomics.com – Rate how walkable the streets are where you live
www.canalrivertrust.org.uk – With all of the beuatiful waterways we have in West Yorkshire is