The morning commute, while a necessary part of any working day, can be lengthy and boring, no matter how many books or magazines you take for the journey. Whether you work in a bustling capital city, or a quieter rural office, statistically you're likely to be spending more than half an hour just getting to work in the mornings; a report published in May of this year disclosed the average commute time to be a lengthy forty-one minutes. With people then also working longer hours, and not arriving home until late in the evenings, it's no wonder that a recent study found that 80% of people failed to meet the government recommended level of exercise. The good news is that it's never been easier to combine a long journey to work with a spot of keeping fit; from simple exercises, to swapping your usual breakfast for something a little healthier, we’ve come up with four easy tips to improve your fitness on the way to the office.
Get to Your Feet
The simplest way to increase your health and wellness is by getting back to basics and using your legs; walking is one of the best exercises there is, and the benefits are too many to list. Not only can regular walking improve your fitness levels, but it’s also proven to reduce your chances of contracting serious, long term illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma and some cancers. Another bonus is that walking is actually a great fat burner, so if you’re looking to tone up, a thirty minute stroll can burn anything up to ninety-nine calories – which means that rich, chocolate desert might not be off the cards after all.
If your journey into work is a long one, admittedly it might not be practical to ditch the public transport and set out on foot, but this doesn’t mean you can’t get the blood pumping at all; by simply getting off the bus or train one stop earlier, you can add several vital minutes of exercise to your commute without the hassle of gym kits, equipment and membership fees.
Utilize Your Smartphone
Whether you’re an Android addict or an Apple lover, you can’t argue with the fact that smartphones have revolutionized our day-to-day activities. From the ability to be constantly in touch with the office, to making social networking a breeze, these miniature computers are both used and adored by professionals everywhere. If you’re keen to squeeze in a little exercise on your way to work, the good news is that it can be as simple as logging off from your emails and browsing through your app store; from pedometers to workout trainers, there’s almost certainly a program that can help you increase your fitness levels. If you have your own office, why not set off for work early and add in four minutes of interval training once you arrive? The Tabata Timer app was developed for people who want to get fit, but don’t necessarily have time for the gym, while the more simple Runtastic Pedometer records exactly how many steps you’re taking each day; ideal for those who walk or jog to work. If it’s food you’re interested in, MyFitnessPal is the fastest calorie counter around; with literally thousands of foods, you can find the information for your breakfast in seconds.
Ditch the Pastries
It might sound like an obvious statement, but all the exercise in the world won’t help you increase your fitness if you’re still eating unhealthy foods. It’s all too easy to grab a coffee and a pastry on the way in to work, or even to skip breakfast completely in favour of cramming in extra time in the office, but these habits are never going to help you move forward in your quest for a healthy lifestyle. While a sugary, caffeine-filled start to the day might initially get your brain going in the morning, typically you’ll experience a sharp drop in concentration shortly afterwards, while eating the right foods can keep your mind sharp all day; wholegrains, such as those found in granary bread, release a slow but steady amount of glucose into your bloodstream, while blueberries have been found to improve the short term memory. Nuts and seeds are also on the ‘eat as much as you like’ list; pumpkin seeds deliver a good amount of zinc, which is highly important for thinking, while nuts contain plenty of vitamin E, said to help prevent a decline in brainpower.
If walking doesn’t appeal to you, or you really do live too far away from the office to contemplate it, why not strap on a bicycle helmet and pedal your way to work? Being a low-impact exercise, it’s ideal for anyone who likes gentle fitness that doesn’t aggravate the joints, and still manages to help with your cardiovascular fitness and muscle tone. The other obvious bonus is that it saves you money; in the short term, the expense of a bicycle and appropriate clothing can seem eye-watering, but when you tally it up against the cost of public transport, you’ll soon discover that you’re making quite a hefty saving. The other good news is that there’s a bicycle to suit everyone; from the vintage Raleigh and BMX styles, to the more modern racing and mountain bikes, it’s easy to find one that suits both your lifestyle and commuting needs.
The thought of getting up earlier in the morning fills most of us with dread, particularly during the colder Winter months – which is why heading off to the gym before work isn’t exactly a popular choice when it comes to fitness. By following our easy steps, you can make the most of your journey to work and turn it from a boring commute into a healthy lifestyle choice.