The Unfortunate Details
In the United States, only 2.6% of the population walks to work and the typical American walks a mere 3,000-4,000 steps per day. Anything below 5,000 is considered sedentary.
American residents do more sitting and collect fewer daily steps than those of most other industrialized nations including the UK, Japan, Switzerland, Germany, France, and China.
A retrospective study looking at nearly 50,000 adults over sixty years old for over six years found that there was an association between sedentary behavior and dementia.
In July 2023, I decided I needed a real office – not just the dining room table. I had received a 20,000 grant from BGE and thus was able to purchase Vielight and LiveO2 to serve the community with brain health modalities. So I started looking for someplace to hang my shingle.
What did I look for in an office? I wanted it to be aesthetically pleasing, with good light and a good feel. But also high on the list was…walkability. I wanted to be able to walk to work.
We, as humans, are programmed to do what is easy. So as a brain health advocate, who also knows the damage of extended sitting and the benefit of exercise, I wanted to make it easy to get steps in.
As a lifelong penny-pinching environmentalist, I saw walking to work as a win-win-win: save money on gas, get exercise, and lower my environmental impact.
What I soon realized is that it is a win-win-win-win-win. There are more benefits than I initially realized.
If you could walk to work, what good would it do?
1. Reduce Environmental Impact
One of the most significant benefits of walking to work is the positive impact it has on the environment. By choosing to walk instead of driving, you are actively reducing your carbon footprint. This simple act contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and dependence on fossil fuels. It’s a small but powerful step towards a more sustainable future.
2. Set Circadian Rhythms with Morning Sunlight
Exposure to natural light in the morning helps set our circadian rhythms, the internal clock that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. Morning sunlight triggers the release of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep and helps us feel alert during the day. Walking to work provides the perfect opportunity to soak up some morning rays, helping you feel more awake and energized throughout the day. Insufficient or impaired sleep can increase dementia risk, so starting the day with light in your eyes, without sunglasses, is a perfect place to begin.
3. Boosting Physical Fitness
Walking, especially when it involves hills, is a fantastic way to increase oxygen uptake and improve cardiovascular health. If you’re up for a challenge, incorporating occasional jogging can also increase bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and perhaps dementia. Walking to work is a convenient way to ensure you get your daily dose of exercise, even on the busiest days.
4. Unleashing Creative Energy
The time spent walking to work can also serve as a valuable opportunity for reflection and creative thinking. The rhythmic nature of walking can help clear your mind, allowing creative ideas to flow more freely. It’s a perfect time to brainstorm, solve problems, or simply let your mind wander. Guess where I was when I got the idea for this blog?
5. Fostering Social Connections
One of the most unexpected benefits of walking to work is the opportunity it provides to connect with strangers. As an extrovert, I’ve found that these brief interactions can be surprisingly uplifting. Whether it’s exchanging smiles with a passerby, receiving a friendly nod from a driver, or sharing a quick hello with someone on a park bench, these small moments of connection can add a touch of warmth and humanity to your day.
Walking to work is more than just a way to get from point A to point B. It’s a holistic practice that benefits not only your physical health but also your mental well-being, your community, and the environment. When you are looking for your next job…maybe “walk to work” will be on your list of priorities. My wish is that more and more people get the opportunity – for the good of everyone, a win-win-win-win-win.
Do you have walking to work challenges or joys? Please share in the comments below.
If you live in the Baltimore metro area, I hope you make an appointment to see the new office. You can now find me at The Center for Healing Arts at 112 E. Main St. Westminster, MD 21157. Schedule an appointment by clicking here.