One of my favorite things about working in NYC was the fact that it took me 20 minutes door to door to walk to work. It was perfect for catching up on phone calls and an easy way to save money—it was also a built in 40 minutes of exercise. A group of researchers from UNC tried to quantify the benefits of active commuting. The research found that active commuters cut their odds of obesity by 50 percent, had lower blood pressure, body mass and triglyceride levels.
Thirty minutes a day of walking at a moderate pace reduces the risk of heart disease; an hour a day cuts the risk of some cancers, stroke, and diabetes. Walking also burns calories: while a thirty minute car drive burns a little over 40 calories, a thirty minute walk at a moderate pace burns around 150 calories.
Walking also has psychological benefits. Walking lifts mood and relieves stress by encouraging the body’s production of endorphins. A twenty minute walking commute is an opportunity to clear the head for the day ahead and arriving home from work relaxed and refreshed is pretty much guaranteed.
In some countries health officials and governments are enacting policies and programs to encourage people to leave cars behind and walk, run or bike to their desks instead. New Zealand has “Active a2b” a two-year-old program that has seen active commuters rise by 17 percent.
I definitely miss my morning walks to work and get excited when I am in NYC so that I can walk.