Want to build a healthy and motivated workforce? Get walking

As our lives become more inactive, we are growing unhealthier. For those who sit behind a desk for the majority of the day, the problem is even worse. With inactivity responsible for an estimated 676,000 deaths per year (that’s twice as many as obesity) we really need to get moving.

Over a week, adults should be active for at least 150 minutes to stay healthy (Department of Health). An easy solution to our sedentary lifestyle is to get walking, as it free and accessible to all. It is great for our mental health and can reduce the chances of getting chronic, long-term illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Walking just one step uses 200 muscles and walking for one mile can burn 100 calories. And for busy workers, walking comes with the added benefit of being extremely easy to fit into everyday life.

With inactivity responsible for an estimated 676,000 deaths per year (that’s twice as many as obesity) we really need to get moving.

Walking to work is a great place to get started. Employees don’t have to walk every day or the whole way. Just getting off the bus a couple of stops earlier and walking the rest of the way or choosing one day to walk is an effective way of introducing activity.

Walking to work is not only beneficial to employees’ individual health and wellbeing; it also has positive effects on the business. With fewer cars around the workplace, customers and clients can get to you quicker and easier without as much congestion. By encouraging employees to walk to work, businesses and organisations are likely to make savings on sick pay from the reduction in absenteeism and creating a happier and healthier workforce who have reduced feelings of stress and depression. It can also help businesses meet their corporate social responsibility targets.

If walking to work isn’t possible then a lunchtime stroll is a good alternative. A study from the University Of Missouri School Of Medicine recently found that sitting for an extended period of time greatly reduces blood flow to your legs but that just 10 minutes of walking afterwards reverses the detrimental consequences. Taking ten minutes out at lunch to have a walk and clear the head can result in increased productivity in the afternoon when compared to just staying at the desk the whole time and eating ‘al desko’.

Getting back on your feet has never been easier with Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking, who are partnering with the City of London Corporation to offer Walk Doctor sessions to City businesses.

These are walking consultation sessions for your employees, where they will be given one to one bespoke advice around physical activity. They will be encouraged to pledge to incorporate more walking in their day to day life in a sustainable and realistic way.

Walk Doctor sessions can be arranged to take place at your workplace (usually in a canteen or reception area), to coincide with an internal event or just as a standalone intervention. Walk Doctor typically cost £2000 but is available free, thanks to the City of London’s support.

Please get in touch with wei.du@livingstreets.org.uk to arrange an informal chat about walking to work or the Walk Doctor sessions.

Wei Du

Project Coordinator for London at Living Streets, the national charity that stands up for pedestrians, working with communities to create safe, attractive, enjoyable streets where it's great to walk. I am delivering Living Streets' Service Level Agreement work around public realms, transport and health for the London Borough of Southwark, the City of London, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, as well as other smaller pieces of work with other organisations and local authorities.