It’s no secret that an active lifestyle is a healthy one, but finding the time and money to maintain it can be a struggle. Walking or biking to work provides an opportunity to improve not only your health but also your commute itself. Best of all, an active commute saves on transportation costs and the costs of most other fitness options.
If an active commute is an option for you, here’s why you should consider it.
Decrease Your Risk of Heart Disease
It’s true that joining a new aerobics class or throwing yourself into a sugar-free diet might have a positive impact on your health, but don’t underestimate the little things. Even small changes like trading in your parking spot for a bike rack can make a big difference. Walking or biking to work has been found to protect commuters’ heart health, decreasing the risk of contracting ischemic heart disease by 11 percent and lowering mortality rates of the disease by 30 percent.
Lower Your Stress, Improve Your Work Experience
Studies have shown that of the methods of commuting — such as taking a train, walking or biking to work — driving a car is by far the most stressful. Traffic congestion that causes long periods spent sitting down can plague drivers with health issues including back pain and high blood pressure. Stress and high blood pressure can play huge roles in cardiovascular health, but they can also negatively impact your experience in the workplace. Stress diminishes your ability to concentrate and find fulfillment in completing tasks, which makes a full day at work seem like a tall order.
Prepare Yourself for the Day Ahead
When road rage is an inevitability each morning, the negative effects of your commute can start to bleed into your personal and professional relationships. Shedding the frustration of a taxing commute once the car door closes isn’t easy — that irritability can last for hours, and people will start to notice. An active commute could be just the way to lift your spirits, as physical activity encourages the production of endorphins, which alleviate stress. There’s also evidence that being outdoors or in nature boosts mental health. Without all your attention focused on the road, you’ll have more time to literally stop and smell the roses.
A lighter commute can mean a heavier wallet. On average, American commuters spend $2,600 each on the typical driving commute every year. Doing away with a daily commute in the car also means having to spend less on costs like gas and car maintenance.
Is an Active Commute Right for You?
An active commute is a great option for traveling to and from work, but it can feel limiting for those who aren’t used to it. Try starting slow: Integrating active commuting into your routine even a few days a week can improve your health and give you a chance to see if it fits in with your schedule and goals.
If you can’t give up on vehicles entirely, consider taking public transportation. While those who hop on the bus or subway tend to take second place behind cars when comparing stress levels among commuters, the walk or bike ride to and from the station will have benefits all on its own. And if driving is your only option, make a point of taking a walk at lunch or ask about getting a standing desk.
The road to health is much smoother when you start by making small replacements instead of major changes. For those little bumps in the road, just make sure you’re wearing a helmet before you set off.