Today is World Car-free Day. As the planet heats up and our sedentary behavior increases, it may be time to face up to the facts: we really ought to walk more often. That’s easier said than done. Sometimes it’s difficult for us to find the encouragement to ditch our vehicles.
You may have seen in the news last week that commuters who choose public transport, ride a bike or walk to their offices will often feel better, both mentally and physically, compared to those that go by car. Yet despite that, people still decline the healthier option. Why is this? Sometimes it requires the right dose of motivation – but we all know motivation can be hard to come across. Thankfully for you, we’ve scoured our research to help get you motivated…
Move to a ‘connected’ neighborhood
Perhaps a touch extreme – but moving to a new area could influence the time you spend walking. Not all towns are built to be walk-friendly.
Research in International Journal of Health Geographics found that a change in your built environment can influence likelihood of walking. But how does that work? Better connectivity of pedestrian paths, allowing greater access to walkers, encouraged people to walk rather than take public transport.
In other words, the more paths that link to other paths, the more likely you are to consider walking. After all, everyone loves a good shortcut. You can read more about this study in our blog post.
Find yourself a nice green area
While you’re looking for your new neighborhood, you may want to consider green space… We love the calm refuge of nature. In fact, living in a leafier area may just boost your wellbeing. But will it encourage you to walk more?
Researchers at Cardiff University found elderly men of Caerphilly were more likely to engage in physical activity if they lived in an area with more green space. This isn’t actually a surprising finding. Having regular contact with nature helps us escape the regular stresses of everyday life, and this is reason enough to get outside and walking.
Get a dog
Now, I’m not saying you should get a dog purely to force yourself outside. Understandably dogs require quite a lot of attention and love. However, if you’ve always wanted a dog and have the means to look after it, here’s yet another reason to get one…
Dogs increase your physical activity and get you outside. You see, man’s best friend requires a heap of exercise (even the little ones).
A recent study in International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found dog owners felt a real sense of obligation to walk their dogs. Not only that, but dog owners also felt more motivated and supported by their canine walking partners. In other words, they made walking a less lonely activity.
They also found dog walking was, in itself, a very social activity. Not only are you spending time with your pet, but you often communicate with other dog walkers and admirers.
The research also wanted to look at the ways we can make dog owners walk their pets more. Basically, the answer involved guilt tripping (to put it bluntly). By targeting the dog-owner relationship, researchers were able to encourage increased dog walking activity. A win-win scenario!
Get some new shoes
Are those new loafers you bought too loose? Are those trainers cramping your toes? Maybe it’s time to invest in a new pair of shoes. It may not have occurred to you but the quality of your shoes may be what’s putting you off walking.
It just so happens University of Salford researchers took a look at rollover footwear and how they benefit walking. The study in Journal of Foot and Ankle Research found that rollover shoes allowed faster transfer of weight from one end of the foot to the other. This made walking not only more fluent, but also more comfortable.
So, perhaps a new pair of shoes directed solely for walking to work or the library may be worth the money.
Don’t walk, cycle instead
Who says you have to walk anyway? Many people prefer the two-wheeled option.
In order to encourage people to cycle, towns and cities are trying to make themselves more ‘supportive’. Heavy traffic and a lack of cycling paths can make the bicycle a vehicle only for the strong stomached. Not everyone likes the idea of cycling amongst fast cars and lorries – and understandably so!
Research in BMC Public Health found unsafe roads put many individuals off cycling. How can this issue be conquered? Findings suggested perhaps safer routes for cycling ought to be highlighted in order to help people find their confidence.
Thankfully, this is being taken into consideration. Big cities, with plenty of traffic, are planning to implement more cycling paths. (Take London for example!)
So, there are plenty of ways you can motivate yourself to get walking. Ditch the car for World Car-free Day and venture out for a walk to work, or perhaps to simply clear your head. Whatever your goal, get involved and give your body the exercise it deserves. Who knows? You may just make a habit of it.