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May is National Walking Month

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May is just around the corner and as it’s National Walking Month, we have a look at how it can positively impact working life, especially if you’re a flexible worker. A brisk 30-minute walk can burn around 200 calories.  

As we step into National Walking Month this May, there's an extra spring in our stride thanks to recent changes in flexible working legislation! With the updated regulations allowing employees to request flexible working arrangements, the opportunity to lace up our shoes and acknowledge our wellbeing couldn’t be timed more perfectly. Research from Harvard University indicates that spending a minimum of 20 minutes, five days a week walking can yield 43% fewer sick days than once weekly exercise.  

As of 6th April employees are now able to put in flexible working requests from day one of working. The request can include permanent changes to how long and where they work. Walking isn't just another form of exercise; it's a fundamental source of transport, arguably the most accessible means to increase fitness and even clear the mind. Let's explore the symbiotic connection between National Walking month and flexible working.

Before we delve into the synergy between flexible working and walking, let's recap the positive impacts more steps have:

  1. Enhanced Physical Fitness: Walking boosts cardiovascular health, aids in weight management, strengthens muscles, and improves overall fitness levels.
  2. Mental Well-being: Regular walking releases endorphins, reduces stress, anxiety, and depression, and enhances cognitive function, fostering a positive mindset.
  3. Improved Productivity: Walking breaks during the workday can enhance focus, creativity, and problem-solving skills, leading to increased productivity.
  4. Work-Life Balance: Integrating walking into your routine promotes a healthier work-life balance, helping you recharge and rejuvenate amidst busy schedules.

Leveraging Flexible Working for Healthier Habits: 

You could negotiate flexible working hours that allow you to incorporate walking breaks throughout the day. A mid-morning stroll, a lunchtime walk, or a post-work wind-down, customise your schedule to accommodate regular active breaks. If feasible, opt for remote work arrangements that afford you the flexibility to step away from the office allowing free choice of walk breaks and flexibility in tasks. Remember remote work eliminates commuting time; utilise the time you have gained! 

Why not suggest walking meetings instead of traditional sit-down discussions? Walking meetings not only promote physical activity but also stimulate creativity and collaboration. Exploring options for compressed workweeks is another possibility, where you work longer hours on fewer days, leaving extra days for leisure activities, including outdoor adventures. Don’t forget, establish clear boundaries between work and leisure time! It will be much easier to ensure that physical activity remain integral parts of your daily routine. Use flexible working arrangements to prioritise self-care and well-being!

But I’m far too busy to try all of this at such short notice!

Nonsense! Try these...

  • Start Small: Begin with short walks and gradually increase the duration and intensity as you experiment with your schedule.
  • Incorporate it into Your Day: Walk to work or to run errands instead of driving. Use stairs instead of lifts and take walking breaks in between tasks.
  • Make It Social: Invite friends or family members to join you for a walk. It’s a great way to catch up while getting fit together. Plan ahead to avoid clashes.
  • Explore Nature: Take advantage of nearby parks or scenic routes. Connecting with nature can enhance your positivity.
  • Multitask Mindfully: Listen to podcasts, audiobooks, or your favourite music while walking to make the experience more enjoyable and productive.
  • Prioritise Self-Care: Remember, investing in your health is investing in your future. Put your health first by making time for walking, even on hectic days.

Let's seize the opportunity to prioritise our health and well-being. By leveraging flexible working policies to integrate more walking into our daily lives, we can reap the rewards of this simple yet effective activity. Whether it's negotiating flexible schedules, embracing remote work options, or advocating for walking meetings, let's make walking a cornerstone of our healthier, happier lifestyles. So, head for the exit and step outside. Happy walking!