The coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on many parts of our day-to-day life – impacts which continue to affect us to this day. One of the key ways in which the pandemic changed our lives related to work and travel, with more of us taking the opportunity to work remotely than ever before. According to recent ONS statistics, about a third of the working population on average work from home at least once a week.
As more of the country work from home as part of a home-working or hybrid-working arrangement with their employer, the national relationship with the work commute has begun to shift. During the pandemic, home working became a new normal, with the car and public transport usage dropping off significantly. But even after the pandemic, public opinion seems forever changed.
More People Walking as Transport
Data collected by the National Accident Helpline found that the UK’s population was more likely to stick to changed travel habits overall, even as restrictions were lifted. The statistics showed that several people will shift to walking in particular, over cars, buses, and trains; the number of people walking as a primary mode of transport was indicated to increase by 3.4%.
This is excellent news from several standpoints, not in the least in terms of sustainability. However, this is also a major boon for public health, as walking constitutes a key form of low-impact exercise with several benefits – both mental and physical.
Physical Health Benefits of Walking
Walking is a form of cardiovascular exercise, that gets the heart pumping and moves blood around the body. Regular walking has been proven to improve cardiovascular health as a result, as the risk of heart disease and strokes are reduced significantly. In particular, stroke risk can be reduced by as much as 30% with the right walking regimen. Walking regularly can also help you burn calories, and, in the case of home workers, be a great help for posture-related issues.
Mental Health Benefits of Walking
The health benefits of walking are not limited to physical improvements, though. Walking can be a powerful way to create space in your head, giving you room to think through stressful situations and relax. The act of walking itself, as with other forms of activity, inspires the release of endorphins that regulate your mood.
Exploring new environments on foot, whether urban or rural, can also be a rewarding experience, giving your brain stimulation and exposing you to new things. All of these benefits can also be enjoyed by using a bicycle – which, according to the same National Accident Helpline survey, has also enjoyed a resurgence in usage post-pandemic.