Here’s How You’ll Benefit From a Walking Commute

Turns out taking the scenic route has tangible benefits for your well-being.

William Perugini / Shutterstock
William Perugini / Shutterstock

Finding the time to get your body moving on a busy day can be tough. The trick is to know where to look for it. And if you work outside your home, the good news is you already have a built-in opportunity to add more movement to your day: your commute

In its most recent Step It Up! report, the U.S. Office of the Surgeon General found that while we’re largely inactive and sedentary on a population level, the majority of us spend at least part of our day walking. More than 60 percent of American adults clock in at least 10 minutes of walking time per day, often as a means of transportation, even if they are otherwise physically inactive. With so many of us bound to our desks at our jobs — and drawn to the couch in our downtime — simply adding steps when we’re already in motion can help us get into a more consistent cadence of being active, without it feeling like a chore.

While everyday walking may not break as much of a sweat as a high-impact gym session, research reveals that it delivers steady benefits to our bodies and brains. In 2017, biologists from New Mexico Highlands University found that walking can help maintain healthy cerebral blood flow. They found that the physical impact of our feet hitting the ground emits pressure waves up through our arteries, increasing blood supply to both hemispheres of the brain. And the brisker the walk, the greater the blood flow overall. The researchers say this simple form of movement may help optimize our brain function and boost our well-being in the long run. 

The Surgeon General’s office points out that since people who use public transportation already walk more over the course of the day than those who drive, it’s a natural opportunity to get off one stop early and wind your way home, or warm up in the morning with a stroll over to the next closest stop. Even if public transit is not part of your routine, adding just 10 minutes of brisk walking (where you can feel your heart beating faster) while you’re on the go can make a dent toward the 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous movement each week recommended by the C.D.C. 

So to get into a healthier movement rhythm throughout the day, or to stay active between your scheduled sweat sessions, start with your Microstep of adding some extra steps to or from public transit on your current commute. You may find you prefer the scenic route after all.

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