Walking To Achieve 6 Goals At Once – Days 11 & 12 Of Low Carbon Living

Grey sneaker & light jeans stepping on concrete path

Source: Gill King, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Days 11 & 12 of 365 Days Of Low Carbon Living.

How are those resolutions to get fit and lose weight going?

As the holidays end and the year gains momentum, we tend to find ourselves with more and more demands on our time. It’s easy to slide back into old habits.

So how can we maintain our resolve to improve our health?

One way is to make it part of our day-to-day lives.

The problems

1  Why drive to a gym to walk (or run) on a treadmill when you can walk from home or work for free? (Yes, plenty of people do that – and some only use treadmills or similar equipment at the gym.)

2  Today I had an appointment in a neighbouring suburb.  How would I get there?

Many of us would simply jump in our car and drive to where we need to go – like the gym or my appointment.  Finding a place to park probably takes us extra time, and we would then spend extra time walking from the carpark to our destination.  We may well have to pay for the parking as well. Of course, with almost all our vehicles currently being powered with petroleum, there is also the cost of fuel and the cost to our climate and air and water quality (especially as cold engines tend to use more fuel).  Then there’s the cost to the local physical environment in terms of space and materials used for roads and carparks.

Others of us might catch a cab or a ride-share like Uber. While we would no longer have the problem and costs of parking, we would have to pay more at the time of driving. That can be a barrier for some people, and it contrasts to the invisible-at-the-time of use costs of fuel, registration, insurance and maintenance of driving our own car. Because it is running for long periods of time, the cab or ride-share vehicle would have a hotter engine. As a result, it would be more fuel-efficient and so cause less damage to our climate and air and water quality.

What I did

1 Most days I walk briskly for 30-60 minutes to improve my fitness and lose or maintain weight. I take a circular route starting and finishing from home.

2 Because I aim to tread lightly on the earth (and particularly mimimise my contribution to climate change), I aim to avoid the options outlined above.

Instead, I look to more benign forms of transport. Bonus: they also cost me less financially and have other benefits.

I know that I am not currently in a position to ride a bike, so that option was out.

Because of the distance I was planning on catching a bus. I would have the added benefit of reading or using my phone while waiting for and riding on the bus.

The bus ride takes about 10 minutes from my area and it drops me at the door, despite route changes in recent years.

Until a few years ago, I would have a 3-4 minute walk to the bus shelter that was set back from the street). Three years ago, after a route change, the walk became about 7 minutes to a stop without a shelter and at the edge of a busy road. Now it’s a 10 minute walk to a bus stop (with or without a shelter, depending on the route).

Of course, there is also the time waiting for the bus each way (more if it is late) plus the worry about whether it will be on time (or even come).

Then I had a brainwave: what if I combined my daily walk with my travel to my appointment?

It would save me money and result in slightly lower emissions (because the bus would not have to accelerate after stopping to pick me up).

It would help my fitness and weight loss.

But what difference would it make to my time?

So I quickly did some maths and a cost-benefit analysis:

Bus (each way):

10 min walk + 5 min wait (to ensure I don’t miss the bus) + 10 min bus ride

= 25 mins total (50 mins round trip)

Walk (brisk, each way):

25 mins door to door (50 mins round trip)

Time-wise it was a no-brainer: by walking to my appointment I would save about 50 minutes of my day, because I would not have to do a separate trips for fitness and travel.

For comparison, here are some figures for car travel:


Getting there: 5 min get car out + 10 min driving + 5 min find car park & pay + 5 min walk from car park to appointment = 25 min total

Getting back = 20 min total (same as out trip, minus parking)

(45 min round trip)

Taxi or Ride share:

5 min booking + ??? min wait (say 10 min) + 10 min travel

= at least 25 min total (50 min round trip)

Catching a bus one advantage over the other modes of travel: a small amount (5-10 mins) of reading/phone time.

However, when walking I could listen to a podcast or music, use my phone, or simply think. And I would be benefitting my body and mind through exercise, and being out in the open air and nature and connecting with my neighbourhood.

So that’s what I did: walk.

And I achieved 5 goals:

  1. Daily fitness/weight loss activity goal
  2. Transport to an appointment
  3. Open up extra time in my day
  4. Get out in nature
  5. Save money
  6. Minimise damage to climate, air and water quality, and local environment.

(It ended up taking me slightly longer coming home, because it was late on a warm afternoon so there was more traffic and I was walking more slowly – and it was uphill!)

Why now?

Some major reasons are:

  • The consequences of damage to our climate are coming faster and worse than generally predicted in the past.
  • Transport is a major source of the pollution that damages our climate and air quality. As electricity generation shifts away from coal and fossil gas and oil, transport will account for an increasing proportion of pollution – unless we rapidly shift away from fuel-based transport.
  • Dietary and lifestyle changes are leading more and more people to become overweight and unfit, with all their consequences. Some of the consequences is more discomfort during heatwaves and less agility during emergencies.
  • The faster we use cars less, the faster less cars will be on the road, so the faster less road will be needed…and the faster our urban areas will become more people friendly (designed for people rather than cars), less expensive to construct and maintain, and less of heat islands in summer.


Ensure you use good footwear. High heels or thongs (flip flops) may be OK for walking for a few minutes but not for serious walking about town. If you don’t have appropriate shoes, invest in some. Did you know that you can get attractive shoes that are also comfortable and healthy for walking? (Remember that sales time often means cheaper shoes.)

Work out your route and estimate your travel time – before you need to travel. Apps like Google maps are helpful for this.

Use sun protection (hat, sunscreen, sunglasses) during warmer months. Carry an umbrella if rain is forecast.


There is plenty more detailed advice readily available online and in our communities.

(Disclaimer: Always take account of your personal circumstances and the local environment and weather at the time you walk. For example, walking for travel is not a great choice if you cannot walk far or if it is a very hot or wet day. And seek medical advice before any major change in activity.)

The challenge

1 Instead of going to a gym to walk (or run) on a treadmill, try walking (or running) around the neighbourhood of your home or work.

2 How many appointments can you walk to?

Join me!

Any change or challenge is easier if you have company along the way.

So let’s embark on this journey together.

  • Read my blog every day for ideas, thoughts and experiences for living a lower carbon lifestyle, more in harmony with nature – while also adapting to the consequences of our damaged climate.
  • Subscribe to get posts direct to your inbox.
  • Commit to taking action yourself.
  • Add a comment to let me know you’re joining in the effort to turn around our world so it can remain liveable – and what your experiences are.
  • Share with others my posts and what you’re doing – our efforts, progress, experiences and challenges – on Facebook, on Twitter, in conversations with friends, on talkback radio and in letters to the editor.

A problem shared is a problem halved. We’re all affected by the changes to our world so we need to be all in on the action!

Till next time…