It’s a health initiative that could add seven years to your life and requires no equipment – except your feet.
Workers, students and school pupils are being urged to take to the pavements as they set off for the day.
The new Active Travel #walktaework campaign will help participants relieve stress, boost their mood and clear their head as they swap their cars for their own two legs, the Scottish Government insists.
Under the initiative, walkers will be encouraged to take pictures while they wander and post them on social media, to allow the Capital’s beauty to be captured.
The campaign is part of the next phase of the Scottish Government’s Greener Scotland initiative and hopes to inspire those who live two miles or less from their destination.
Short car journeys produce almost twice as much carbon dioxide as a longer journey would, according to the government – meaning if more people opted to walk, the city would be a much cleaner place.
Andrew Murray, a GP and sports and exercise doctor at Edinburgh University, believes that walking is the “golden ticket” to health, and those who walk at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, are guaranteed to live on average up to seven years longer.
He said: “Walking regularly is one of the best things anyone can do for their health.
“It not only makes people happier, but on average if you walk 30 minutes a day, five times a week, it can increase your life span by up to seven years.”
Dr Murray said walking regularly can prevent conditions such as certain types of cancer, depression and Type 2 Diabetes.
He added: “Walking is also great for the brain. It’s achievable and something everyone can do. It’s the golden ticket to health and happiness.
“People are often blown away when you tell them the health benefits of walking, running or cycling.”
The new campaign is seeking to remind people that walking is healthy, free and can be easy to fit into daily routines.
George Gunn, a digital strategist from Bonnington, is someone who is already familiar with walking to work every day.
The 26-year-old loves how good he feels after it – both physically and mentally – and would encourage others to follow in his footsteps.
George said: “Since I started walking to work I’ve noticed definite health benefits.
“Even walking for just 15 to 20 minutes to and from work each day adds up to about three hours of exercise a week.
“It makes a huge difference to my life but most importantly, I really like it. Walking to work gives you the chance to clear your mind before tackling the day ahead.
“Working at a desk and being sat in front of a computer for so many hours can make outdoor time all the more precious – so why get on a bus when you can enjoy your commute on foot?”
Walking is also very positive for children, as recent studies have shown that kids who walk to school have an improved concentration and mood.
Doctor Murray said a few days ago he opted to walk with his child around the city rather than drive, taking in the sights and scents they would have missed had they been in a car.
He said: “Edinburgh is one of the best cities on earth to go for a walk around – with the Royal Mile, Arthur’s Seat and the Pentland Hills only a few of the options.”
A spokesman for VisitScotland added: “We hope residents who #walktaework take time to appreciate the splendour of their surroundings and the welcoming people around them and by sharing their images will encourage visitors to come and explore the beauty of the city for themselves.”
‘It’s exercise without the hassle and commuting without the expense’
Michael Morrison, 32
Michael Morrison, an account manager from Leith, enjoys a thirty-minute walk every day.
The 32–year-old enjoys all the benefits of walking to work; from feeling heathy to knowing he’s travelling in a much greener way.
“I’ve been walking down Leith Walk for seven years. It’s downhill most of the way which means it’s almost as quick as getting the bus, but there’s always something different to see.
“With a busy working life, it’s hard to always find the time to fit exercise in, so it’s good that I can make it a part of my day. I know how important walking is for my health so to keep on track I’ve set myself a challenge and I’m hitting my recommended 10,000 steps every day.
“It’s not just physical health either, it’s the only part of the day that I have 100 per cent to myself – it’s my time to think, plan and organise without any distractions, something which can be hard in a busy working day.
“It’s also a great way of doing your bit for the environment. I’m a great believer in small actions all adding up. My previous role was in a charity which does great energy-saving awareness work, so travelling to work in the greenest way possible has always been part of my day.
“A lot of people think walking to work can be difficult but it’s exercise without the hassle and commuting without the expense. It’s time to yourself without distraction and a way to see and hear what’s going on in your local community. I love seeing the different sights each morning, and there’s always something different happening – especially at this time of year.
“Plus, it gives you a chance to fully wake up before starting a day’s work!”
‘I track my times each day to see if I can beat the day before’
Rachel Patrick, 27
Rachel Patrick has been walking to work for the past four years.
The graphic designer, who lives in Canonmills, says that she enjoys walking to work because it helps her get set for the day and even gives her time to catch up with family.
“I’ve been walking to work for the last four years. I prefer walking because it gives me the chance to wake up before a day at work, getting plenty of fresh air and exercise at the same time.
“I phone my mum most mornings with my headphones on to catch up on our day and I think I’ve even encouraged her to start walking too.
“That’s the best thing about walking, as long as you are aware, and keep an eye out for traffic, there’s plenty other things you can do at the same time – whether its catching up with family or friends, getting more me-time or even just taking in all the great sights of the city.
I’ve started to get really competitive about my walking and I’ve treated myself to some brand-new trainers to keep me motivated. I track my times each day to see if I can beat the day before and I’m planning on creating an infographic of the data to see if I get any quicker – I’ll be running before you know it.
“Walking to work in Edinburgh is really easy and there are plenty of different routes to take. For people looking to start off, try getting off the bus a stop early and walking the rest of the way– you’ll probably value it more than you think.”
‘Walking gives me time to unwind on the way home’
Hannah Lawson, 36
Hannah Lawson, a case worker at the Edinburgh Trust (Turn2us), is originally from the south-east of England but has been living in Edinburgh for 12 years and walking to work for the past two-and-a-half years.
Hannah walks 30 minutes to and from her workplace every day, saying it’s a great part of her day.
“I get to walk along the path through the gardens on London Road for part of the journey – it’s great to feel like I’m somewhere a bit more rural, and away from the main road, even though it’s so close to the city centre.
“Walking gives me the time to unwind on the way home from work – the light exercise and penny savings are definite bonuses, too. I often think about our impact on the environment and it’s good to know that I am playing my part in making a difference.
“I got started with my walking by thinking about all the different ways I could go each day. The routes I take are not all necessarily the quickest but if I enjoy it then it helps me to keep motivated for going out and doing it all again the next morning. My walk is probably an extra five minutes because of the slight detour I take, but it’s worth it because of the scenery around me.”
‘Sunny mornings get me energised’
Richard Beastall, 40
Richard is a finance worker in Edinburgh city centre. He started walking to work five months ago because he found it was quicker than taking the busy morning bus.
He walks for around 50 minutes each day and admits that being able to walk to work gives him some much needed down time in the morning before a busy day.
“Something that motivates me on my walk to work – apart from the coffee at my desk – is the scenery you get to enjoy when you’re out and about walking in Edinburgh. It’s a busy time of year in the city just now, but getting out and about in the morning means I can see the sights before the streets are too packed. I really love the crisp sunny mornings that get me totally energised for the day ahead.
“Edinburgh definitely has its fair share of unusual locations to walk through which can make your morning routine that bit more exciting. I’d encourage anyone who can to start walking more, even if it’s just a weekend stroll to the shops.”