How to Dress for an Active Commute

Whether you walk, bike or even skate to work (yes, people do it!) the last thing you want is to arrive at an important meeting with sweat stains under your arms. While your employer probably appreciates your efforts to exercise and take care of your health, she’ll probably take less kindly to an overpowering stench emanating from your cubicle.

What it all means: you need to come up with a system that allows you to slide into your office chair sweat-free -- and that’s going to mean a bit of pre-planning.

When planning for an active commute, first:

Check out the showering options at your workplace. These days, employers who are committed to green building initiatives will provide a shower and a safe bike storage place for the company’s active commuters. If you’re lucky enough to work for one of those companies, then you’ll be able to shower and change before your shift, with no worries about excess sweat. Give yourself enough time to arrive, shower and be ready for the day. If you work for a large company, you might not be aware that these facilities exist until you ask.

If your company doesn’t provide those amenities, on the other hand, you’ll have to come up with a clothing plan that provides you with everything you need, while not overloading you with too much extra weight.

In your office, have the following:

A packet of wipes. Baby wipes will do the trick, but start looking around and you’ll find that there are other options out there too, including "active wipes" for people on the go who don’t have time to shower after a workout.

A comb or brush. If you have long hair, it’s might get a bit messy by the time you’ve completed your active commute.

Your work shoes. You don’t need to lug your fancy high heels or your expensive dress shoes back and forth every day. Keep a few pairs on hand in your desk, and change into them when you get there.

You’ll also need to consider how you’re going to get your work clothing back and forth each day, while still keeping it clean and pressed. Here are a few ways that other active commuters do it:

Bring all you need just one day a week. Some people opt to drive or take public transportation one day a week -- perhaps Monday when you’re not quite so motivated to actively commute -- and use that day to bring in the clothing they’ll need for the rest of the week. If you’re the type who wears suits to work, this might be the best option, since it won’t necessarily require you to fold your neatly-pressed suit into a small bag and risk the wrinkles that could ensue. When the day is done, take home the clothing you wore last week.

Outfit your bike with panniers or a big basket, and load up your work clothing each morning. Beyond the relative ease of only having to worry about your clothing one day at a time, the other benefit is that you won’t have to wear a backpack on your back, which makes your back extra sweaty by the time you arrive at work.

Just wear your work clothing. If your commute is only a mile or two, wearing your work gear is probably not going to leave you sweating excessively by the time you arrive. Still, take precautions to protect your pant legs from chain grease by tucking them into your socks, or put on an outer layer of wind or rain pants that protects you from dust, rain and other elements.

And one final tip, for everyone who wants to avoid arriving at work resembling a stinky, sweaty pig:

Slow down before you arrive. Give yourself enough time to take it really easy during the final five to 10 minutes of your ride. That allows your heart rate to slow down, and could make it so you’re not sweating when you walk in the door.

You’re taking a great step in actively commuting to work. Now just take a few extra steps to ensure your fellow cubicle mates don’t have to suffer because of it.


Image courtesy Federation European Cyclists’, Flickr




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