Walk to Work Day 2019: why a stroll with colleagues is good for your productivity… and your health

You’ve read the news stories, you’ve seen the social media posts, and you know the score: sitting down for too long is bad for our health. Our lack of physical exercise is contributing to increased levels of obesity, type-2 diabetes, various cancers, depression and reduced life expectancy.

It’s not just our physical and mental health that suffers – our creativity and productivity does too. According to PwC, rising ill health is costing UK businesses £29 billion a year. Another report concludes that mental health problems at work cost the UK an estimated £34.9bn a year.

One way to help reduce this health and well-being crisis is surprisingly easy. You don’t need to buy fancy clothing or equipment or go to the gym; you don’t even have to take up long distance running or mountain climbing. You simply have to move more – just get out of your chair and walk.

To celebrate international Walk to Work day on 5 April, we want to share some easy tips for increasing the amount you walk each day. We’d also love to hear about your favourite walks, particularly if you work in the Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor. Let’s see if we can inspire others to join us in walking…to work more productively and more creatively.

Walking back to happiness: The science bit

Helen Shapiro was right: walking can make you happier – “physically active people have up to a 30 per cent reduced risk of becoming depressed.” Walking can help you relax and that means you tend to sleep better, which can make you feel more energetic and boosts your self-esteem. A 2014-study by the University of Warwick also found that happy people are 12 per cent more productive at work.

The natural beauty of the Tech Corridor region means you’re never short of options for country walking, whether you prefer the trails of Thetford Forest, the beaches of the North Norfolk Coast or the relaxing surroundings of Granchester Meadows (pictured below). And with an average of over 200 hours sunlight a month during the spring and summer months, the climate is perfect for getting out and about.

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Walking is also good for thinking, as the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1889) noted: “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” That great natural scientist Charles Darwin even leased 1.5 acres of land so he could construct his own ‘thinking path’. More recently, research studies at Stanford University  have demonstrated that “walking increases creative ideation.”

The great thing about walking is that it’s free – it can be surprisingly sociable and it delivers life-long benefits. Trading your desk for a brisk 30-minute walk each day could reduce your risk of premature death by 14 per cent. A more energetic routine could reduce that risk by around 45 per cent, according to a study by the American Cancer Society published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Get involved

To celebrate Walk to Work Day, this week we’ll be supplying you with some practical tips to get active in your workplace, and compiling a list of some of best walking and well-being initiatives. If your company runs a walking at work scheme, or you and your colleagues like to enjoy a lunchtime stroll, let us know about it on Twitter and we’ll compile a list of some of the region’s favourite routes.