National Walking Day is right around the corner.
On April 7, walkers everywhere will hit their local sidewalks in stride.
That makes this time of year the ideal time to start discussing the benefits of walking for health. The quarantine weight eventually has to come off — no excuses even if gyms are still closed — and walking is the perfect way to do it. It may also be the very easiest way to get fit.
Given that over 40% of Americans are obese, talking about physical activity needs to be a priority sooner rather than later. For some workplaces, this may include extending walking programs beyond National Walking Day.
Ready to share with employees the benefits of walking?
Read on to learn more and discover how to host your own walking event for National Walking Day in five simple steps!
When is National Walking Day?
The first Wednesday in April marks National Walking Day each year. This year, that falls on April 7. Its purpose is to get individuals of all ages out to stretch their legs and elevate their heart rates. It’s sponsored by the American Heart Association as a way to encourage Americans to commit themselves to at least 30 minutes of daily walking. Doing so can improve heart health, muscle strength, and overall mental fitness.
Walking for Health Benefits the Body and Mind
As one of the easiest exercises to do, you can bet that walking is just what the doc will order for those who aren’t fans of working out. Not only does walking benefit the body, but it’s also known to improve mental health.
Here’s a look at some of the benefits of walking:
- Improves circulation - Walking daily is an excellent way to improve poor circulation. No matter your walking pace, you’re going to increase blood flow, which is a great way to lower blood pressure.
- Boosts immunity - Always battling the sniffles during the cold and flu season? Walking for at least 20 minutes daily — five times a week — may help you have fewer sick days. One study found both men and women were sick for a shorter duration with milder symptoms when they took to walking that often.
- May reduce sweets cravings - Craving chocolate? Take a walk instead. A University of Exeter study found a quick 15-minute walk may curb chocolate cravings. It also may reduce the amount of chocolate you’re tempted to eat during stressful situations.
- Less stress on the joints - If your joints are fragile, you might consider walking as an alternative exercise to a higher-intensity fitness experience. Walking lubricates the joints and isn’t as jarring as other intense exercise types but still provides cardiovascular benefits.
- Helps with weight maintenance - You do have some power over your genes. Harvard researchers found that walking made a difference in over 12,000 people with obesity-promoting genes. For those who briskly walked for an hour a day, the gene effects were cut in half!
- Increases creativity - Stumped in your creative process? Take to the great outdoors for a nice long walk. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition found walkers came up with more creative ideas better than when just sitting.
Have Your Employees Step Up for a Challenge
Walking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors while getting physical activity in. Encourage your employees to join other colleagues for National Walking Day to get their steps in.
Here’s a simple step-by-step guide on how to enjoy National Walking Day as a team:
Step 1: Get Management Approval
As always, this step is important. Have your leadership sign off on this wellness event. Consider having everyone take a 30-minute break for the walking challenge — this can work for both in-house and remote workers.
Step 2: Solidify the Date
It doesn’t have to be on National Walking Day, which is April 7. Your company can set up a weekly or monthly walking day challenge.
Step 3: Make it Fun
Encourage employees to make shirts, wear crazy outfits, take pictures, and generally just enjoy themselves on the day of the event. Prepping and planning leading up to the event can be a team effort and team-building activity.
Step 4: Plan Your Route
If you plan to walk in-person together, plan out your route. It can be around the block, at a local park, or on the sidewalk near your workplace.
Step 5: Spread the Word
Promote your event with posters, email blasts, and meeting reminders. Ensure all details are emailed out the day before and the morning of the event. Consider sharing infographics from the American Heart Association. Don’t forget to talk about the wonderful benefits of walking!
Step 6: Enjoy the Day!
Be on time and have fun before you begin walking with your team. Pass out water bottles and get everyone excited to start walking for their health!
Inspire Your Employees to Start Walking for Health
As you can see from the facts above, physical activity — especially walking — can benefit overall physical and mental health. Get your team excited by walking as a form of exercise by hosting a fun walk-a-thon event on April 7.
Additional ways to enjoy National Walking Day:
- Raffle off a smart water bottle
- Giveaway t-shirts with walking sayings
- Have employees take pics and post them
- Host a BBQ party followed by a walking event
Since walking comes with a host of benefits, consider ways to encourage employees to get excited about walking beyond National Walking Day. This simple activity can be done anywhere at any time, making it an ideal activity for almost anyone to get fit.
Go on, get your employees walking!
What are your favorite perks of walking for health? Share your thoughts in the comments below!