Active commuting is more than just flipping someone a sign when they cut you off in traffic. With active commuting, you leave your car at home – Yes, at home – and either walk, or hop on your bicycle to get to work.
Now, we realize that driving in style is a lot more comfortable than walking, but it is not nearly as good for you. Consider the following benefits before saying no outright.
• If you are lucky enough to be able to walk to work, you get a great cardiovascular workout, never have to worry about getting stuck in traffic or finding a space to park. At worst, you will need to wear suitable shoes while getting to and from work and changing out of those at work.
• It is free exercise.
• Can be done by anyone at any fitness level.
• Better if you have a longer distance to go.
• Great cardiovascular workout and also makes it easy to slip in between gridlocked traffic.
• You need somewhere to put the bike at work, but they don’t take up a lot of space.
• Relatively easy to pick up with a little practice.
• Useful if you have to carry a heavy briefcase, etc.
Don’t Take Our Word for It
This large English study had a whopping 263 450 people participating in it. 52% of those studied were women. 48% of those studied were men. The average age of participants was 52.6 years. They were recruited from a total of 22 sites nationwide, across various industry sectors.
People were chosen because of the way they got too and from work, and the results were interesting.
The study found that those who cycled to work and back had a decreased chance of developing cardiovascular disease and cancer. It was also found that their risk of dying from all causes decreased.
Those who walked to work and back had a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
The study closed off by suggesting that people start to incorporate active commuting into their daily lifestyles.
How Can You Start to Do That?
Wanting to start incorporating active commuting is a good first step, but where do you go from there? For the rest of the article, let’s have a look at that.
Your first step, before making any changes, is to acknowledge how fit you are. How are you going to walk the sixteen blocks to work, if you cannot walk the two blocks to the coffee shop? You will need to ease back into things slowly.
The same applies to the cycling. If you haven’t ridden in years, and lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle, it makes sense to get some practice before you start trying to cover a longer distance.
Start off Slowly
There are no rules that say that you have to cycle the two miles to work tomorrow if you are not fit enough. What you should start doing is to start being more active. When parking your car, for example, park it as far away as you possibly can and walk the extra distance.
Catching a bus to work? Great, get off a stop early today and walk the rest of the way. When you are used to that, start getting off another stop earlier. Carry on until you are walking to work.
With your bicycle, it could be a little more challenging. See about going for a ride every day just before work or after, to build up your stamina. You might be able to park your car further from the office and ride the bike to and from it every day. As you get better, leave the car even further away.
By this, we mean ensuring that there is still enough time for you to get to work on time. Which would mean leaving earlier. It also means ensuring that you are wearing the right shoes and possibly clothes as well.
Walking a mile to your office is a good goal to have, but it would be virtually impossible to do so in stilettos. Get yourself a good pair of trainers and socks to wear on your way to work and keep your work shoes in a bag.
It might also be helpful to have a change of shirt or to wear a t-shirt under your clothes if you tend to sweat a lot while exercising. If there is a shower at work, even better. You could leave a couple of work outfits at the office, come in your workout clothes and then shower and change.
Do check if your company is on board with the idea first, though and ensure to plan carefully so that none of this makes you late for work.
Not Just for the Work Commute
Carry this newfound physical activity through to your home life as well. When parking at the mall, choose one of the bays on the outside. Take the stairs instead of the elevator wherever possible as well.
Think about fun ways to incorporate more exercise over time. Like taking a walk around your whole garden when fetching your mail. Or walking to the mailbox two or three times instead of once.
There are so many different ways for you to start incorporating movement into your life and you will be surprised at how easily this can be done. And, the upside is that the more often you are able to incorporate exercise, the healthier you will start feeling.
It will become something of a game to start looking for ways to change things up. You will save a ton of gas, transportation costs, and get fitter and healthier to boot. And, if you really needed any more reasons, you would also be helping out the environment as well.
For all these reasons, we say, “Bring on active commuting.” It might not be feasible for you to go the whole hog outright but, over time, you could build yourself up to the point where it is. Don’t you owe it to yourself to lead your best life ever?