Texas Tech professors weighed in on reasons they prefer to hoof their commute every day, even the bad weather days.
In 2004, then-Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson declared the first Friday in April to be National Walk to Work Day, encouraging Americans to trade in their car keys for sneakers to get to work.
Although it's no longer officially recognized, the tradition has lived on. For a number of Texas Tech University professors, walking to work is a way of life every day of the year. Kurt Caswell, an associate professor in the Honors College; Idoia Elola and Carmen Pereira, associate professors of classical and modern languages and literature; and Curtis Bauer, an associate professor of English, discussed why they prefer walking to work.
- 11. It's better for the planet.
“Walking produces virtually no carbon emissions,” Caswell said. “Climate change is real, and driving unnecessarily is bad for every living thing on the planet. So I walk to work.”
- 10. It's traditional.
Elola grew up in a town in Spain where walking is the normal/expected thing to do and coming also from a tradition of hiking in the mountains in the Basque Country with her parents and friends on the weekends, walking to work is part of the familiar.
- 9. It offers the opportunity for exploration.
Bauer appreciated the time interacting with the world around him – looking at the trees, picking up an acorn or dropped penny and stopping to breathe in scents from a flower garden or fruit tree.
“It allows me time to inhabit the place where I am living,” he said.
- 8. It's less isolating.
“This choice of ‘transportation' keeps me closer to life around me,” Elola said.
- 7. Multitasking is safer on foot.
“Walking to work gives me time, space and the attention to dedicate to some of the things I'm working on,” Bauer said. “It could be a poem, a translation, an article or even how to talk about something in a class. If I'm driving or riding a bike, I have to pay closer attention to what else is around me.”
- 6. It helps reduce stress.
Caswell said he finds the walks that start and end his day are great relievers of whatever stresses he accumulated. And stress is a major factor in all kinds of ailments.
- 5. It's fun.
Elola enjoys being outside and experiencing the weather, even on those very cold, very hot or very windy Lubbock days. Pereira finds her walks refreshing and invigorating; being in the sunlight and moving around helps her be in a good mood before sitting for a long time in her office.
- 4. It's healthy.
Caswell cited research that found just 30 minutes of walking a day offers major health benefits, so he sees it as a way to keep doctors, medication and chronic illness away. Elola said walking is a healthy way to keep in shape.
Walking also provides a health benefit to the rest of the community, Elola said; walking to work and other places is her contribution to keep the air in Lubbock cleaner and less polluted.
- 3. It's less expensive.
Caswell calculated that each year he saves between $500 and $750 by leaving his car at home. This isn't just with gas either. Pereira appreciates not having to pay for parking. Bauer likes not paying for a gym membership but still getting plenty of exercise.
- 2. It's easy.
No hunting for a parking space, no fighting traffic, no long walk from the parking lot to the office.
- 1. Why not?
“I don't need to drive,” Bauer said.
“I can walk,” Pereira said. “I live near enough to be able to walk in less than 10 minutes and bike in five.”
Caswell quoted Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard to explain his love of walking: “Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day, I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, and the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill. Thus if one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right.”