Lace up your walking shoes, step away from that desk, and prepare to physically and mentally feel a whole lot better by stepping out during National Walk at Lunch Day.
National Walk at Lunch Day is celebrated the last Wednesday in April and gives workers, students, and individuals a chance to get outside in the fresh air, rejuvenate, and get healthier. Once you join in on the celebration, you’ll be hooked and find yourself making it part of your daily routine.
A Brilliant Idea
Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies across the country, including Alabama, have been championing National Walk at Lunch Day since 2006, steadily building momentum and attracting new participants over the years. Today, tens of thousands of people participate in big and small events.
Following the annual walk, BCBS of Alabama makes a sizeable donation to the Governor’s Commission on Physical Fitness and Sports on behalf of participating businesses, schools, and individuals.
In Alabama, major walk events sponsored by BCBS are held in all of the state’s major cities—Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, and Montgomery—with the general public invited to attend, and many more individual businesses and schools throughout the state set up their own events at their location.
But, Walk at Lunch Day isn’t only for businesses. Students, teachers, and parents are also encouraged to start walking by participating in the sister program, Alabama Walk at School Day. Last year, more than 22,000 people participated in this event.
Walks are not strictly held during the lunch hour. They are held at whatever time of day is convenient for the employer, employees, school, and students.
Walking is one of the easiest, safest, and most effective forms of exercise a person can do. If you walk at a pace of 3 mph, your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and stroke is significantly reduced, and it helps tone your muscles. If you walk for 30 minutes, you can cover 1.5 to 2 miles and, depending on your weight, burn about 200 calories.
Additionally, studies have shown that a brisk lunchtime walk provides significant mental benefits as well. You’ll have more enthusiasm, feel more relaxed, and return to the desk refreshed.
The goal of National Walk at Lunch Day is to get people off on the right foot (pun intended) toward a healthier lifestyle and show them just how easy it is to get started. The bottom line is to motivate individuals to make walking part of their daily routine.
Participating in National Walk at Lunch Day is easy. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Find a Sponsored Event Near You
It’s easy to join in on the fun. Simply visit the National Walk at Lunch Day website to find an event near you.
2. The More the Merrier
To help get you motivated and to have more fun, invite friends and family members to join you.
3. No Event Nearby? No Problem
The goal here is just to get outside and walk for your health. If you’d rather not be a part of the event, just take a lunch break and walk at a nearby park or around the area where you work.
4. Make it an Event
While BCBS of Alabama sponsors large events in major cities, smaller businesses and schools are encouraged to take part as well.
If you’re interested in having your workplace or school schedule an event, talk with your boss, manager, or school principal about getting one started. The event can be as big and elaborate or as small as you like.
BCBS of Alabama has some helpful tips to help you get the party going:
Determine the best time and location for the walk. Make sure there are no conflicts at that time of day with other activities. Take into consideration whether traffic or construction will be a problem at your desired location.
How long will the walk be both in miles and time? Remember, the average person can walk 2.5 to 3 miles per hour. For a 30-minute walk, plan for a walk that’s one to 1.5 miles. Be sure to keep the length of the event within your employees’ allotted lunch time.
Try to anticipate how many walkers will participate.
Figure out whether drinking water and snacks will be provided.
Develop a plan for medical emergencies.
Have a contingency plan in case of rain. Consider a rain date or the use of an indoor track at a high school. Don’t forget to have a means of notifying participants of the change in venue or date. Unless a monsoon or severe weather moves in, the walk can go on! Encourage participants to bring raincoats or umbrellas. A walk in the rain is exhilarating.
5. Stay Hydrated!
Whether you participate in a large event, a small one you organized at your business, or walk on your own, the number one thing to remember is to stay hydrated. Always bring along plenty of drinking water.
At many of the major events, water is supplied for participants. Some hosts and sponsors go as far as handing out commemorative T-shirts, hats, even fresh fruit to snack on when the gathering is over. Even if the hosts of the event supply water, you should always bring extra just in case.
Written by Joe Cuhaj for Matcha in partnership with BCBS of AL.