Walking to work: not as easy as you think

Last week was ‘Walk to Work Week’ and Gail Beer, Director of Operations, took the opportunity to write of her experiences. 

I regularly walk home from work so Walk to Work week gave me no qualms, although of course I would be walking home. My own journey is only  3 miles so it is possible to walk to work and takes me about an hour, depending on traffic lights, window shopping and  the weather! I usually walk about 3 times a week, less in winter and more in summer.   Starting  from  the office  I  turn  into Victoria Street pass Westminster Abbey and then along Whitehall,  a quick view of Downing Street and Horse Guards  and  into the  Strand ;  skirting Trafalgar Square.  I then head up into Fleet Street pass the Royal Courts of Justice and Kings College. Finally I see St Pauls  Cathedral before me,  I cut through Paternoster Square and then home. My walk home is a wonderful experience,  seeing all the major sights from which I never tire.

Last week was going to be a doddle  for an old hand like me.  However,  it started badly, Monday evening was a late finish due to a board meeting  and rather than walk home in the dark I got the tube and thereby fell  at the very first hurdle!

Tuesday was raining yet I set off in sturdy shoes, umbrella and thick coat to brave the  May weather.  The traffic spray was pretty bad and the number of umbrellas trying to poke  me  as I marched along  was truly alarming.  It was cold,  windy and generally unpleasant.  After a day at work   did I really want to walk 3 miles.  My last opportunity to jump on the tube is at  Embankment,  I faced front and carried on.

Wednesday  wasn’t too bad,  I left the office in plenty of time  to get home at a reasonable hour, I wanted to be in by 7pm.  The warmer weather had brought out the tourists and as busy Londoner I found myself muttering  as I strode  through the milling crowds  at Downing Street, or were they  just rebel MPs? By the time I had walked  popped into Marks and Spencer’s and Boots  I was in at 7.30, so most of the evening had gone. I don’t have any children to worry about when I get in but walking instead of  driving or taking transport  clearly eats into your day and if you are a busy parent or carer it isn’t easy.

Thursday  saw me  elsewhere and not at 2020health.  I had a lot to carry and had to be at Waterloo for 09.06 train.  I set off in the wind  and rather wished I hadn’t . I was blown all over the place and  my arms ached from carrying so much stuff.  I decided not to walk back from Waterloo that evening or walk to Islington where I was meeting a friend for supper .   I did walk the mile and a half home and got home at 10.30.  By then it was pretty cold , but I had to get some miles under my belt.

Friday was a great day, warmer,  drier and  I had no commitments that meant I had to rush.   I wandered home taking in the crowds and the shops and  thoroughly enjoyed the time.

Overall I had walked 12 miles  during walk to work week.  ( at the turn of the 20th century  we were walking 26 miles per week on average!) I  achieved my 10,000 steps per day on the 4 days out of 5 I did walk  and burnt of about 250 calories per day  whilst walking.

What did I learn?  Well, it takes a lot of walking to burn calories off, walking  takes real commitment. If the weather is bad it is easier to jump on a bus,  finishing work late  isn’t conducive to walking home, or for that matter starting early.  I have a wonderful and interesting walk, not so pleasant if you have to walk in places that may be poorly lit or where you may be frightened.  Getting the right amount of exercise takes commitment  and  encouragement  from those around you. Rather than walk to work let’s see employers helping  employees to  exercise and participate in sport  during the day, in breaks or though workplace activities.  Next year I am going to be having a walking at work week!

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