Wednesday 5 November is Stress Awareness Day and national charity Living Streets’ is urging employers to think about creating a healthier working environment by signing up for Walk to Work Week 2015 (11-15 May).
With stress being the biggest cause of workplace absence and walking known to reduce stress, Walk to Work Week is an opportunity for people to try commuting on foot or to encourage those at work to head out for a stress busting lunchtime stroll or walking meeting.
Last year, a YouGov survey commissioned by Living Streets found that 47 per cent of office staff eat lunch at their desks four or more times a week and 43 per cent don’t set foot outside for a 20 minute walk during the working day.
Throughout Walk to Work Week, Living Streets encourages people to build some walking into their day, benefitting not only their physical health, but their mental wellbeing, team spirit and stress levels.
Zip Car UK is one of many workplaces where staff have felt the benefits of the scheme.
Danielle Ward from Zip Car UK said: “I love walking and am a true advocate of the mental and physical benefits. During a particularly stressful period last year someone suggested that walking would help. Last year I began walking the two miles to work in the morning, and was shocked that even after a couple of days I could feel the difference. I was happier, less stressed and more productive.
“Seeing colleagues eating lunch at their desks instead of stretching their legs, Walk to Work Week seemed the perfect opportunity to show them the benefits of walking, whether to and from work or on their lunch break.
“Walk to Work Week reawakened my enthusiasm and enjoyment for commuting on two legs after my efforts were dampened (literally) by the wet winter. The same was so for a few of my colleagues who took part. One said he was surprised by how much he loved it. He determinedly went on to rack up the most miles across the week. Another said he felt inspired by it and would continue to walk whenever possible, and was looking forward to taking part again in 2015”.
Another participant of Walk to Work Week said: “Walk to Work week is a really great scheme. I feel thinner, fitter, calmer and happier – plus I feel a real sense of belonging in my home town.”
Living Streets’ Chief Executive, Joe Irvin, said: “Walk to Work Week is a fantastic opportunity to incorporate walking into the working day. We know through our research that walkers are the happiest commuters. Many of us experience pressure in our working life and a walk can often clear our heads and put a spring in our step. Signing up for Walk to Work Week takes the benefits of walking further, offering challenges and building team spirit, hopefully paving the way to a healthier and happier workforce”.
Walk to Work Week attracts a variety of workplaces, from leading banks to local shop owners. Organisations participating last year included Zip Car UK, Transport for Greater Manchester and the Austrian National Tourist Board.
Visit www.livingstreets.org.uk/walktoworkweek to find out how to register for Walk to Work Week 2015. Further information, including workplace packs and team challenges, will be announced over the coming months.