Many people drive to work, car-pool, catch the train, the bus, quite a few cycle. I’m one of the walkers though. One of the silent throng that makes its way to my University each day along the roads and paths of my town, Guildford. It’s a lovely town and walking is a great way to see it, benefit my health and benefit the University too.
My commute begins with a view of Guildford’s spectacular cathedral which looks different depending on the light and the seasons. I have only one busy road to cross and then I’m in backstreets with houses and gardens and hardly any cars to deal with. The final part of the approach is a pedestrian path which gets narrower in the summer and can get slippery if it’s icy.
Have you questioned your commute lately and wondered if there is a better way? Perhaps you could try walking, if not all the way, then the last kilometre to two. Of course, I realise that not every one can do this whether due to physical abilities or family demands. It does take time, but walking is great exercise with many benefits.
Walking to Work Gives a Predictable Travel Time
Your travel time is predictable. Leaves on the track? No problem. Bus broke down? Doesn’t affect you. Crash on the A3 leads to gridlock traffic? Just walk around it. No road rage for you and no stress.
Exercise is important – we all know that. But if you are sitting at a desk all day working on a computer, you are probably not exercising your eyes as well as not exercising your legs. Walking gives you time to admire the view, change your focal length which gives your eyes a good workout. It’s an aerobic exercise which you can adjust to suit your own circumstances. If you like a very brisk walk, step up the pace. Me, I like to walk a bit slower so I can stop along the way.
Breathe fresh air
I am short. On a crowded bus, my nose is at armpit level of all those people holding on to the straps overhead. Not nice. When I’m walking I not only breathe fresh air, I can stop and smell the roses, literally. And the lavender.
Meet the people
Most days I pass the same people. There’s the man who’s on his way to the shop for the paper. He always smiles Good Morning. And the lady who works in the chemist – she’s often running late, but always says hello. Then there is the elderly lady who is usually in her garden when I’m on my way home. Sometimes I stop for a chat. It’s nice to connect with neighbours. We don’t know each other’s names, but we are all part of each other’s daily routines. I also get to chat to colleagues I meet on the way.
Observe the seasons
When I crest the hill, I can see most of Guildford. It’s romantic when there’s a bit of mist. Beautiful when the sun is blazing and all the trees are leafy. Spectacular in the autumn when there are so many colours on display. Winter when we are lucky enough to have a bit of snow is just as lovely, though it’s often dark when I’m going home. Noticing when the first buds of spring come out on the trees.
Walking to Work is Free
Why pay gym membership so you can drive there and then walk on the treadmill? Just walk to work! All you need is some reasonably sturdy footwear. (Yes, these are my actual feet, not those in the photo at the top of the page.) I don’t walk in dress shoes – for me it’s boots in the winter and sandals in the summer. Others wear proper athletic shoes. It’s a personal choice. And by the way, it hardly ever rains during commute time. It might pour down in the middle of the day, but I rarely have to use my umbrella to get home.
As I write this, the blackberries are almost ready for picking. Early ripeners get eaten on the spot, but when they are all ripe and begging to be picked, make sure you have a container to put them in. Wild roses grow along my route and if I remember to carry a pair of scissors, I gather some of those too.
Benefits to the University
Healthier staff surely leads to less absenteeism and less stress. There is no air or noise pollution generated by pedestrians. No traffic snarls, no searching for parking spots. In fact, no expensive car pars required and no administrative overheads managing permits and exclusion days.
Do you walk to work? Will you try getting off the bus one stop before you destination and walking the rest of the way?