At the end of last year I changed projects at work, which allowed me to start commuting to my company’s downtown office instead of a client site. Since I live about a mile away from the office I started walking to work each morning.
At first it was a little tough. The distance itself is doable. But the 25 minute walk isn’t any shorter than my previous commute, so during those early days I longed to hop in my car, crank up the A/C or heater, and be there in 10 minutes.
The walk itself is generally nice. Seattle is absolutely gorgeous in the summer (unless some crazy forest fire is causing some of the worst air quality in Seattle’s history) and the mild winters means a 30 minute walk isn’t too difficult to navigate.
Untuck my shirt in the summer, throw on a rain jacket in the winter, put on a mask during the forest fires. It’s easy. I don’t ever have to deal with inches of snow or 100 degree heat.
The hardest part is the rain. I’ve had days where my shoes will be completely soaked either to an errant puddle or lack of planning.
But after almost a year of walking to work, I never want it any other way!
Walking to work is something that everybody should get to experience at least once in your life. When you walk, you are reliant on nothing but your body to get you from place to place. You move relatively slowly, taking in your environment as you stroll by. Unique social interactions take place as people navigate busy sidewalks and intersections.
Negotiating crossroads with strangers in cars is a particularly unique experience. When you live in the city, most cars understand that pedestrians have soft, killable bodies and that walkers should be given deference. Wielding that power by making four tons of steel come to a stop with nothing but a glance is addicting.
There is an inner peace that comes through the methodical steps of one’s stride.
Sometimes your steps sync to the music. You power home, the beat carrying you like the wind.
Other times, you forget you’re even moving your legs! They just keep going and your mind is free to wander while your feet take you home.
When you stop to pay attention, the regular thrum of your footstep on the concrete is a constant companion. You feel connected to the city, one of its many inhabitants moving from one place to another. You are one small piece of an autonomous organism that keeps the city’s heart alive.
Most of us don’t listen to that beat, but it’s always there. My favorite walks are the ones where I tune in and feel the city moving beneath me.
As great as that all is, there’s one benefit that rises above all the rest:
Regular exercise does wonders for your health.
And yes, long walks are exercise. Not the most intense of exercise, but it’s far better than sitting behind a desk or in a car all day.
Since I started walking to work, I have lost 25 pounds! Simply walking three miles a day gave me moderate amounts of exercise, without me doing anything other than commute! When you walk to work, you traveling the way humans have since our ancestors figured out how to stand on two legs.
That’s why walks are enjoyable and good for our health. We are biologically hardwired to do it! Our ancestors often hunted by walking after prey until it literally collapsed of exhaustion, unable to run away any longer.
I know that not everybody is in a position to walk to work. But if you have the opportunity, you should take advantage of it. I’m not sure I can ever commute any other way again (although I bet I’d love cycling to work).
If you’re looking for a way to connect with your city or surroundings or want to live a healthier lifestyle, you can’t go wrong with a walking commute.
The One Thing: Walk to work
Lane Sawyer is an IT consultant at Pariveda Solutions in Seattle, WA. He enjoys writing articles like this one when he’s not working on some new project, tackling a challenging video game, or running around outside in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. You can find out more about him on his website.