Get into your stride to boost your health – there are plenty of tools to help you plan your route
I’m not a particularly sporty person. True, I like to go for a walk at lunchtime to clear the cobwebs, but not for me the tight Lycra of the cycle-to-work mob or the telltale kit-bags of those who pound the treadmills of local gyms before or after work. However, I thought it would be good for me to get more exercise, so at first I looked at the option of going for a swim a few mornings a week. But the expense and danger of picking up a nasty verruca put me off.
Then it struck me – why not walk to work? My commuter train journey only takes 15 minutes and, with a walk at each end, I can do door-to-door in less than 40 minutes. I have walked to work before, during a particularly snowy spell a few years ago when public transport was in chaos. It took me about an hour and a quarter, so I figured I’d only have to get up half an hour earlier, don some sturdy footwear and set off.
Find the app that works for you
I decided I didn’t want to take the obvious route via main roads, partly because of the increased pollution, but also I wanted a bit more of an interesting route to see. And, as always these days, I discovered there’s an app for that. Walkit calls itself ‘the urban walking route planner’ and it really does have an impressive range of options. You just enter your start and end points and Walkit will find one of several routes: the shortest, the ‘quietist’, the one with fewest ups and downs or one that goes via any points along the way that you want to visit – a coffee shop near the end of your walk, for instance.
Once you’ve decided your route, Walkit will tell you how far the walk is, how long it will take a slow, medium or fast walker – it turns out I’m bang on medium – and even how many calories it’s likely to burn up. You can print out the very clear map or have it on your phone or tablet. Walkit now covers most British cities and large towns and they’re adding new ones all the time.
Work it into your fitness routine
My wife also walks to work from time to time (it only takes her half an hour) and she uses another walking app, called MapMyWalk, which can also use your phone’s GPS to track your route as you walk, as well as directly monitor the number of steps you take to integrate into any other fitness regime you might have.
Neither of us is fanatical about walking to work – if it’s raining or I’m just feeling rather lazy, I’ll still jump on the train – but feeling a bit fitter and seeing more of the city are good incentives to get walking. And with the help of an app or two, there’s no excuse for not striding out with confidence.