The past 15 months have brought about a wide range of change to our lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of this change has been unwelcome and turned much of our daily lives upside down. As more people are being vaccinated every day and new cases of COVID continue to decrease we are starting to return our pre-pandemic worlds, including returning to offices for many who have been working from home since March 2020. Putting aside a general discussion of the pros and cons of remote versus in-office work environments, the move back to in-office work, whether full-time or hybrid, is an opportunity to make changes to our previous routines and include physical activity into our daily lives. Walking and biking are easy and relatively inexpensive means to do this.
Walking can easily become part of an office culture, both on a personal and corporate level. On a personal level, employees can commit to taking a walking break once or twice a day. This could be a lunch time stroll, parking farther away from the office so that you have to walk, or a couple of 10-15 minute walking breaks. A popular activity in my neighborhood since the pandemic began is the walking phone call or meeting. This can be done just as easily in a commercial neighborhood as it has been happening in residential areas. On a corporate level, things like setting up lunchtime walking groups, or encouraging walking breaks can set the tone for a more active workforce. Lead by example. If you are a supervisor, have walking meetings, or try to take a walk with each of your employees every week or two. Consider doing a team building scavenger hunt around your office neighborhood. Be creative, make walking a priority and make it fun.
Biking can be a little more daunting to work into your daily routine, but it is probably easier than you think. Bike commuting is a great way to be more active, and with many offices indicating they plan to be more flexible with hours and days, it could work for more people. There are a lot of resources to help you get started and keep rolling. Bike Arlington has “how to” information and will even design a custom bike route for you. Also, you don’t have to commute every day. Once or twice a week can make a big difference. Similar to the walking suggestions, biking can become part of the workday. If there is a Capital Bikeshare station near your office you could do a group lunch ride, or even bike to a nearby business meeting.
As we all move forward and figure what our “new normal” is going to be, make a commitment to yourself and/or your employees to say let’s do things a little differently than before and make physical activity a regular part of your day.