9 reasons you should try walking for transportation

This Austin-based writer sold her car and began walking to work every day, braving 103 degree heat, freezing temperatures, and even getting back to her routine after a nasty fall. What did she get from trading in her car for a pair of tennis shoes? Less stress, a new addiction to exercise, crazy financial savings, and a sense of well-being — to name a few.  We loved her story and hope you do too!

A year ago, I sold my car and committed to walking to work. Most weekdays, I walked a little under three miles to my office in downtown Austin. I encourage others who live within a reasonable walking distance from their offices to give it a try.

I’ve never been a huge fan of exercise. I figured if I did something extreme, like selling my car, I could reduce my carbon footprint while getting healthy and saving money. In 2013, I channeled my inner Forrest Gump and logged over 500 miles. Here are 10 reasons I’m hooked.

1. A three-mile walk once a day is not a big deal. Before I began walking to work, I casually dated a treadmill and had a few minor flings with the machines at the gym. I was miserable there. I hated waiting for a treadmill, I’m weird about smells (and the gym is full of them), and I always felt like a hamster, plugging along without a purpose. But walking with a purpose? It’s really not a big deal. If you are pokey like me, it will take you between 45 minutes to an hour to knock out three miles a day. The time passes quickly and next thing you know, you’ve made it to your destination.

2. Walking makes you feel fantastic. Every single day I walked — regardless of the weather or my mood before I left the house — I arrived at work feeling great. This is the first time in my entire life that I have felt that addicted to exercise. Exercise-addicted people used to drive me nuts, but I finally get it now. If I skip a day, I feel crummy, and by mid-morning I’m pumping myself up with coffee to stay awake.

3. If you sell your car and walk, you will save crazy money. I’m married with kids, so selling both cars isn’t an option for us. However, just ditching one car made a big difference. I don’t miss the car payment, the additional car insurance, the downtown parking fees, and the gas and maintenance. I also don’t miss the road rage.

4. Have a Plan B. Likely, you’ll need some flexibility for parent-teacher conferences and daytime errands. Austin offers Car2Go, a car share program where you simply check out a cute little smart car to use when you need it. I also rely on our city bus system and my wildly supportive husband, who picks me up from work many afternoons. Of course, not everyone has these options. If that’s the case, try and schedule some time to walk before work or after work when you can bring the kids along with you.

5. Walking reduces anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, just five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects. I’m walking proof that it’s true. I’m a pretty high-strung gal, and when I walk, it makes a huge difference in how I handle stress.

6. Walking forces you away from screen time. It’s really refreshing to take a break from screens. While giving your neck and eyes a break, how about checking out the world around you? I actually see sunrises now. I also pass other walkers and feel an immediate sense of kinship. Some days, I get what I call “God’s bonus,” and a pack of shirtless guys half my age jog by, and I feel momentarily what grown men feel like when they ogle cheerleaders.

7. Worried you’ll get bored? Podcasts are the way to go. When I started walking regularly, my coworker suggested I subscribe to some podcasts, and recommended NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour. Now, I geek out to several podcasts several days a week. Here’s the iTunes Top 10 to get you going.

8. Be prepared. On Sunday nights, put your workout clothes and shoes somewhere visible so Monday morning you are ready to roll. This will keep you from making lazy Monday morning excuses.

9. Don’t stop. Make your walks a priority. Aside from one nasty fall I took a few months ago that knocked me out for a few days, I’ve been like a postman when it comes to my walks. I’ve walked when it’s 102 degrees, and this week, I left the house when it was below freezing. It’s that important. I never thought I would say that!

Do you live within a reasonable walking distance from your office? Do you ever walk to work, or would you consider it after reading this? Even if it’s impossible for you to get rid of your car, these tips definitely some of the benefits of walking!

Discussion4 Comments

  • Esther Sellman Jan 21, 2014 

    I have not been wanlking as I should and now would like to start again. I am in need of a new pedomiter. Also I need to find out how I can let Healthy Blue know that I am again enrolled, and will be credited for my participation. My BMI was just over 30 so I need to let them know I am trying to rectify it. Thank you , Esther Sellman

  • Maddie Jan 21, 2014 

    Hi Esther – please visit http://www.walkingspree.com/welcomebcnhbl/ for all the info you need. Happy stepping!!

  • Robtlp Jan 21, 2014 

    I cannot get rid of my car but I have thought about getting a bike and riding it to work. I am more like 10 miles away from where I work and riding a bike would not be that bad. I am just conserned about makeing the trip at 11:30 at night.

    • Maddie Jan 22, 2014 

      Good for you, Rob! Your safety is always #1 – maybe look into bus schedules to get back at night? Cheers!