Planning your route

Before you start, it’s worth doing some research on the best routes – there are some good digital resources to help you.

  • Try varying your route a little to keep it interesting
  • Try out new routes on the way home – when you’ve time to explore
  • Time yourself – so you know how long each route takes (average walking speed is 3mph)
  • Be prepared to adjust your route for different weather conditions (see Walking in winter)
  • Check the weather conditions before you leave – local travel updates can be found on-line, on breakfast TV and local radio stations, or via mobile apps

What to wear

With a little trial and error, you’ll soon find out what works for you.

  • Wear multiple layers of thin clothing and avoid anything too big and bulky – remember you’ll quickly warm up as you are taking active exercise
  • Think about what you’ll need to take off once you get to work
  • Wear well-fitting, sturdy walking shoes or trainers with socks – avoid heels and sandals, you can always change your shoes at work
  • Be prepared for rain – a lightweight, waterproof and windproof jacket is indispensable, or consider carrying a plastic cycling cape for a quick cover up
  • Wear a hat to protect your head and hair – maybe tie your hair back to avoid getting too windswept!
  • Don’t forget sun screen for your face
  • Make sure you are visible to other road users (see Staying safe)

How to carry your stuff

If your walk is longer than 10 minutes, then this is important.

  • A small, well-designed rucksack is the best way to carry stuff, failing that a messenger bag slung across your body
  • Keep your hands free
  • Don’t carry a briefcase – keep it at work
  • Don’t carry a shoulder bag – it will quickly become tiring and unbalance your body
  • Keep it light – only carry what you absolutely need – aim for about 5lbs including the bag
  • Your rucksack ideally should have padded shoulder straps and a waist strap
  • Wear it high on your back – so you maintain good body posture
  • Use both shoulder straps – to keep your body balanced

Staying safe

Follow these simple guidelines to help keep yourself safe.

  • Make sure other road users can see you – wear light-coloured clothing or something fluorescent
  • In the dark, wear a high visibility vest and/or reflective accessories to ensure other road users see you in plenty of time
  • Don’t walk between cars queuing at lights or in slow-moving traffic – cyclists and motorbikes can’t see you
  • Cross the road at zebra and pelican crossings
  • Give yourself plenty of time – accidents are more likely to happen if you’re in a rush!

Walking in winter

You’ll need to take a few extra precautions during the winter. For a few months, you’ll be walking in the dark and encountering more challenging weather conditions.

  • Be prepared – check the forecast and dress for the weather
  • Stick to well-lit paths – avoid off-road short cuts
  • Think about investing in walking poles for extra support and stability, and/or ice studs or snow boots to prevent slipping in icy conditions
  • Don’t underestimate the hazards of ice. In very cold weather, it’s best to adjust your route to use gritted pavements and footpaths. Maps of priority gritting routes can be found on your local council website

Arriving at work

Allow some time to spruce yourself up when you get to work.

  • Give yourself time to cool down
  • Find the best bathroom to smarten yourself up – some employers provide lockers for people walking or cycling to work
  • Body wipes can be useful if you’re a bit sweaty (it happens!)
  • Change your shoes and pack away non-work clothing
  • Have a drink of water and maybe a small snack – and you’ll be good to go

Stay motivated!

There are some real benefits to becoming a walking commuter. To stay motivated, remind yourself why you made that choice – here are a few good reasons:

  • You arrive at work alert, energised and ready to start the day
  • It’s a stress-free journey – you’ll know exactly how long it takes; no need to worry about traffic and public transport delays
  • You save money – no fares, petrol or parking to pay; no expensive equipment needed
  • You get fit and stay healthy – walking burns calories and it’s a good cardiovascular workout, lowering blood pressure, reducing risk of heart attack, osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes
  • You enjoy the big outdoors while getting your daily dose of vitamin D

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