Walk to Work Week: Day Five

image5

Happy Friday everybody, today marks the end to my Walk to Work Week!

From uphill treks which challenged my legs to peaceful lunchtime walks, it’s been a great experiment and thoroughly interesting to track all of my walking over the course of the week.

Each walk has left me energised for the day and with a clear head. I’ve buzzed through tasks at work and by the end of the day I’ve definitely been ready to hit the hay!

Despite having a few gripes with my legs, I’ve not had a single blister.

I’ve also been really lucky, especially for Aberdeen’s standards, in terms of the weather holding up. For those I’m really grateful.

For my final day’s walk, I returned to King Street to walk into town for a Getabout meeting. It was my quickest trip yet, taking 5803 steps in 39 minutes and burning 269 calories….which is a good point:

Calories or fuel/money….I know which one I’d rather burn!

Adding today’s journey to the rest of the week, my total results are:

  • 16.5 miles walked
  • A duration of 3 Hours, 14 minutes
  • 30,834 steps
  • 1,067ft elevation gain
  • 1,956 calories burned
  • 4.24kg of CO2 saved.

I suppose what you really want to know is, will be continuing to walk to work?

I think that this week has made me realise that it’s actually feasible to do. Before I looked into it, I would have considered it too far a trip, too much of a hassle, too much effort.

But it was entirely do-able.

Realistically, would I spend 3 hours each day taking the full route to and from work and walking over 9 miles?

I have to be honest and say that I can’t see myself doing it every day. BUT I am most definitely keen to incorporate more of it it into my working week. Whether that means doing the more manageable 40 minute walks to meetings, walking to the bus stop and then catching the bus to the office, or simply just making sure I head out for some fresh air at lunchtime.

I won’t be hanging up my shoes just yet, that’s for sure!

I hope some of you will also consider fitting more walking into your life.

I’ve had great fun with the blog this week and who knows maybe you will hear from me again sometime soon….I hear Bike Week is just around the corner!

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Walk to Work Week: Day Four

13 mile badgeThe penultimate day of Walk to Work Week is here and upon logging my data with Living Streets this morning, I was delighted to see that I had achieved the 13 mile badge!

A herron on the Don
A herron on the Don

With a busy schedule, today I needed to be in work at an earlier time, so rather than walking all the way (1.5 hour journey), I got a lift part of the way which saved me about 30 minutes walking. Unfortunately this meant that the bit I missed out was the lovely downhill and scenic part, but needs must.

I have to admit that the walk today felt a little tough; my continual struggle with sore calves meant that tackling this uphill route was difficult to fully enjoy, but I knew it was doing me good, burning around 360 calories again! It was also easier to pinpoint how much further I had left to travel, now that I was more familiar with my route from home.

Now that I’m at my desk, for the moment I’m enjoying resting my legs; later today I’ll be adding on another 30 minutes by travelling the 15 minutes to and from a meeting. Another 1.4 miles to the tally.

Today I thought I’d speak about some of the gadgets and apps I’ve been using during my walks. But before I start please note that “other brands are available!” these are simply the tools which I used.

RoutesFirst up is Strava which is a GPS tracker compatible with most Android and iPhones, as well as other devices such as Garmin’s and TomTom’s etc. (full list here).

I’ve been using the iPhone app which lets you track activities such as running, cycling and of course, walking. The app is free for the basic version, but you can upgrade to Premium for more advanced and in-depth features, including aptly named ‘Suffer Score’ which will link to your heart rate and tell you how hard you are pushing yourself.

I found that for the purpose of this week, the free version was more than enough. It tracked my route, distance, elevation gain, the time taken and my average speed. Each trip is saved and these are linked to your account. You can also share socially with channels like Facebook, Twitter and Path as well as connecting with friends and seeing their activities.

Other tools like this include Map My Walk and Endomondo which also track similar stats.

PolarFTThe other main gadget that I’ve been using is a heart rate monitor. The model I use is a Polar FT4. This happens to be a gadget that I already own, as I use it to track my exercise and calorie burn at the gym.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, it uses an ECG chest strap and watch to measure your heart rate which will calculate your calorie burn (based on your height, weight, age, gender and the intensity of the psychical activity).

Similar activity trackers (with and without chest straps) also include models from Garmin, FitBit, Withings, Jawbone and of, course, the much talked about Apple Watch, as well as many, many more. If it’s something you are interested in getting, it’s well worth doing your research before buying as they all offer so many different features, from sleep monitoring to waterproof ones for swimmers.

My final top gadget this week has been wireless Bluetooth headphones – again this is something I already own which I use when running. It has meant that I could pop my phone in my bag or pocket without getting tangled in wires and happily listen to my music on the way.

When using headphones, it’s important to remember that whilst enjoying your tunes you should keep the volume level down to one where you can still be aware of your surroundings. Could you hear a car coming or someone trying to catch your attention?

Your awareness is something to keep in mind when using any type of gadget – whether it be fiddling about with a watch or checking an app – make sure to keep your eyes up and your focus on where you are going! How many times have you almost walked into another person or even a lamppost because you were checking your Facebook? (Or is that just me?).

Walking in 2015 can definitely be enhanced with gadgets just remember not to get too distracted from the main activity!

Todays stats

  • 4.2 miles in 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Two routes – one to work and another to a meeting in town
  • Over 10,000 steps
  • 443ft elevation gain (all the climbing done over the course of the journey)
  • 542 calories burned (using a heart rate monitor with a chest strap)

Peaks: Seeing a heron at the River Don and some sparrows enjoying a dirt bath.

Pits: Other than my calves (which is an issue all of my own!), I don’t think there was much wrong with today!

So with four days behind us, I hope that you will join me tomorrow for my final Walk to Work Week blog for a look at the overall stats and reflection on the week!

Walk to Work Week: Day Three

Scotstown Moor
Scotstown Moor

Halfway through the week and over the two days so far I’ve clocked up 7.4 miles! After two very different journeys, today I’ve taken a third and different route again.

You see, on Wednesdays I work from home and whilst it’s a great opportunity to get lots of work done in some peace and quiet it also means that I don’t have to travel the 4 mile journey to the office. It also means that I couldn’t technically ‘walk to work’ today.

Determined to fit walking into my day, I took a circular walk on my lunch break. This is great way to incorporate walking in your normal routine, particularly if you would struggle to walk to work normally (if it’s just too far, not a viable route or just not feasible some days). Taking a break out in the fresh air at lunch and clearing your head is also much better than eating ‘al-desko’, as far too many of us do now.

Ahead of my outing, I used WalkIt.com to plan a journey around my local area which I decided would incorporate the Scotstown Moor nature reserve and a nearby walking and cycling path.

Great view from the top of the hill
Great view from the top of the hill

Although the weather was definitely less enjoyable today, I was fortunate that the rain stayed off and I completed my walk in under an hour.

With today’s blog theme looking at the health benefits of walking, on this journey I wore my heart rate monitor (more on walking gadgets in tomorrow’s blog!) to get a better analysis of my performance.

During my walk I burned 366 calories – with an average heart rate of 120bpm and a max of 145bpm. For anyone who counts calories, you will know that burning 360-odd calories in your lunchtime is not to be sniffed at!

The monitor also told me that I spent 17 minutes in my ‘fat burning zone’. This means that during this time the source of energy I used was mainly fat. In this particular heart rate zone, fat burns efficiently and your metabolism, mainly fat oxidation, increases.

Other than burning calories, how else can waking help with your health?

Looks ominous, but it stayed dry!
Looks ominous, but it stayed dry!

According to the British heart Foundation:

“Walking is one of the best ways to get your dose of healthy activity: just 30 minutes of walking spread throughout the day will help to keep your heart healthy and strengthen your muscles.”

It’s recommended that adults aged 19-64 should try to be active daily and should aim to fit in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week. Incorporating even just a 30 minute lunchtime walk each day would help you reach this target!

In addition to keeping a check on your weight, toning muscles and keeping your heart healthy, did you know that walking can also reduce your risk of stroke, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis?

It can also give you more energy, help you to relax and sleep more easily (after 2.9 miles and a 45 minute gym class, I certainly did last night!).

So, feeling very healthy, my thoughts and stats from day three are:

  • 2.9 miles in 53 minutes
  • A route round a nature reserve and walk/cycle path
  • 7324 steps
  • 135ft elevation gain (all the climbing done over the course of the journey)
  • 366 calories burned (using a heart rate monitor with a chest strap)
  • Technically, I didn’t officially ‘save’ any CO2 today, because I wouldn’t have used the car anyway, but for completeness sake, it equates to 0.83kg of CO2 saved.
  • A mixture of music and birdsong!

Peaks: Enjoying some fresh air and a peaceful walk, walking past a dog walker and her 6 four-legged friends who seemed pleased to see me! *cue jumping doggies!*

Pits: Still battling with sore legs and the colder weather.

Join me again tomorrow for the penultimate day of Walk to Work Week and where we’ll be taking a look at ‘Walking in 2015’ and some of the gadgets and apps you can use to enhance your journey!

Happy travels folks!

WALK TO WORK WEEK: DAY TWO

River Don - Ellon Road
The River Don – taken from the Ellon Bridge

Day two of walk to work week and today I got the chance to switch things up a bit and try out an altogether different journey!

As part of my role, I’m quite often out and about from the office meeting with people. So this morning I headed off to a meeting in Aberdeen city centre – about an hour-long walk away.

The straightforward route was exactly the same as you would take if travelling by car. Compared to yesterday’s trip through nature reserves and residential areas, today’s journey ventured along the bustling Ellon Road and King Street, through Old Aberdeen, Seaton and past Aberdeen University and St Peter’s Cemetery, where the May blossom was flurrying through the air.

Blossom at Aberdeen Uni
Blossom outside Aberdeen University

It took me just under an hour to complete, and whilst taking the car might have only taken around 20 minutes in traffic at that time of day, I would have still had to find a space in a car park, pay and then walk to my meeting venue anyway. This was a journey that I could see myself doing more often.

In addition, it was a much flatter route than day one’s trip, with an elevation gain of just 75ft, compared to 361ft yesterday. But while my calves were glad of the uphill break, today I seemed to be having pain in my shins.

Shin splints was something I’d really only heard runners speak about before but it turns out walking can cause shin pain too.

TrainersIt’s most likely caused from not warming up, walking too fast or striding too far…as someone with short legs who is constantly trying to walk quicker to keep up with others, I could see this might be a habit of mine! But I’ve researched some tips for easing the stress on the muscles!

My two trips so far have just touched on range of different walking options in the north east so keeping with a local theme, here are some great sites for walking in Aberdeen City & Shire:

First up is WalkIt.com’s Aberdeen page:

A great tool for finding walking routes from A to B, circular routes and for plotting your own journeys. It also contains details of local walks created by other users!

Sky in AberdeenSecondly, if you fancy doing some walking in your leisure time why not check out the Walk Highlands pages for both Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire – which list a range of graded routes from easy walks on well-defined paths, right up to hill walking and Munros! Each route will tell you how long it should take and how far you will travel. From beach and coastal walks in Aberdeen or Inverbervie, to pleasant walks around Haddo House or parts (or all) for the Formartine and Buchan Way!

Back to Walking to Work, my thoughts and stats from day two are:

  • 2.8 miles in 53 minutes
  • A mostly flat route
  • 6627 steps
  • 75ft elevation gain (all the climbing done over the course of the journey)
  • Around 279 kcals burned (taking an average from MyFitnessPal, WalkIt.com and Living Streets)
  • 0.79kg of CO2 saved
  • 17 songs enjoyed

Peaks: Sunshine and a flatter route

Pits: Sore shins and dust blowing up into my face!

Join me again tomorrow to find out how I get on with day three and a look at the health benefits of walking! Happy travels!

Walk to Work Week: Day One

Trainers, shoesTrainers laced up and ready to go, I felt quite excited about my first day taking part in Walk to Work Week, the annual workplace walking challenge run by Living Streets.

With a regular commute of almost 4.5 miles, I can shamefully say that the most walking I normally is to and from the office car park. There, I’ve said it, I take the car.

Why? A mixture of convenience, comfort and, possibly most difficult to convince people to change, habit.

With the car, I can leave when I’m ready (no rushing to meet the bus), I can listen to my own music, control the temperature around me and it’s by far the quickest option of travelling to work, taking around 20-30 minutes (depending on the Haudagain!).

But for me, commuting to work has not always been car-based. In fact up until 5 years ago, I didn’t own a car. Instead, I walked to work, which from my home back then was a pleasant 35-40 minute trip (a struggle uphill on the way there, but a gleeful skip downhill towards home).

BalgownieOf course I had my occasional battles with the changing seasons (which can all come in one day, here in Aberdeen), but for the most part of it was a thoroughly enjoyable walk. It helped keep me fit and healthy, saved me money and I became familiar with people I’d meet along the way.

It was the chance to both clear my head and then inspire a whole new set of thoughts to fill it again. I’d arrive home relaxed and fresh, not agitated by road rage or angry from being held up in traffic. But things changed when I began to need a car for other parts of my life and soon it became all too easy to jump in and drive to work.

Five years later and I’ve started a new role, working with Getabout – a joint project between several organisations in Aberdeen City & Shire who want to create a sustainable transport system and greater transport choices in the region – promoting things like car-sharing, taking public transport, walking and cycling. I didn’t feel right about promoting Walk to Work Week to others without trying it out for myself!

River DonSo here we are; over the next week, join me here on the Getabout blog and follow my journey – and hopefully it will encourage others to do the same – even just for some of your travelling.

Each day we will look at different topics including what’s going on in the world of walking in Aberdeen City & Shire, walking and fitness, a look at some of the gadgets and apps which can enhance your journey as well as a reflection at the end of the week with my overall stats.

My initial thoughts and stats from day one:

  • 4.6 miles in 1 hour 29 minutes
  • A mix of uphill and downhill
  • 10,080 steps
  • 361ft elevation gain (all the climbing done over the course of the journey)
  • Around 500 kcals burned (taking an average from Apple Health, WalkIt.com and Living Streets)
  • 1.27kg of CO2 saved
  • 27 songs enjoyed

Peaks: The weather being nice and warm, seeing lots of wildlife, a sense of accomplishment

Pits: Accidentally wandering onto a building site and discovering an old shortcut was out of reach (research your journeys, guys!), sore calves.

Join me again tomorrow for some thoughts from another day’s walking! In the meantime, if you’re not already signed up with Living Streets, go and give it a go. Or follow along on social media with #WalktoWorkWeek.