Central Coast workers are being encouraged to start spring by getting out and walking on Friday 1 September for Walk to Work Day.

Walk to Work Day encourages employees and employers to build regular walking into their daily routines by walking to and from work, taking a walk at lunchtime if possible, and using the stairs instead of elevators and escalators.

The annual event is celebrating its 23rd year and supports Diabetes Australia. In the last 12 months, 120,000 Australians have been diagnosed with all types of diabetes, making it the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia. It can lead to a range of debilitating complications including vision loss, limb amputation and kidney and heart disease.

Regular walking helps lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and can help people living with diabetes manage the condition. It also helps prevent and reduce the impact of other chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.

Kincumber resident Brett Andrew commutes to Sydney for his role as a senior manager for asset and risk strategy at Greater Sydney Parklands, but builds regular walking into his routine by parking his car further away from the office and walking the remainder of the way.

“I park up near Paramatta Park, which is about a kilometre and a half from the office,” Brett said.

“It might only take about 10 minutes, but then there’s another 10 at the end of the day that gets the blood pumping before the grind of sitting in traffic. It’s also a good way to wind down and turn your work brain off at the end of the day.

“After a day of work and having spent three or four hours behind the wheel, I know I’d feel too tired to exercise when I get home, so it’s a really easy way for me to build some physical activity into my day.”

“I cut the commute short near Paramatta Park because it’s such a picturesque place to finish or start my journey to or from the office. You’re surrounded by beautiful trees, so it’s a really nice way to connect with nature while still being in an urban setting.”

Outside of the working day, Brett regularly swims at Gosford pool, but he said just taking advantage of those small opportunities throughout the working week helps make a big difference in his physical and mental wellbeing.

“I look for opportunities over the course of the week to get some incidental walking in, like taking the stairs rather than the lift in our building, or if I don’t need to be in front of the computer, I try and do a walking meeting.

“I’m fortunate in my role that I can get out into the parklands for inspections, so I can incorporate walking as part of my duties, but throughout my whole working life I’ve always looked for those small moments where you can get away from the desk, get the blood circulating and get outdoors.”

Nigel Tebb, health promotion officer at Central Coast Local Health District, highlighted the importance of walking for good mental health and social connectedness.

“Getting out and enjoying our beautiful Central Coast by walking not only has great benefits for our physical health, but also reduces our risk of anxiety, stress and depression, and helps us connect more with our community,” Nigel said.

“Walk to Work Day is great because it’s so easy to participate in. If you work further away, use public transport and get off the bus or train a few stops earlier and walk for the remainder of your journey. If you do need to drive, take inspiration from Brett and park a kilometre from your workplace and walk the rest of the way.

“For those working from home, you can walk to grab your morning coffee, or get out at lunchtime and take a break from the screen. Every little bit helps.”

For more information on Walk to Work Day, visit www.walk.com.au.