It’s easy enough for people to say you should be biking or walking to work, but when you live in the suburbs and your job is 20 miles away, that’s something of a tall order. Biking 20 miles may be the domain of the weekend warrior, but it’s not really feasible for the daily commuter. Still, you don’t need to bike or walk the whole way to consider yourself an active commuter.
Plus, there are so many benefits to an active commute. Spending even part of your travel time on foot or on bike - or even in a pair of inline or roller skates - will help you stay in shape, as well as improving your sense of well-being and increasing your productivity. If you’re at a loss about how to get started making your commute more active, here are a few ideas.
Change bus stops. If you commute by bus or train, you probably have a certain stop where you’re always getting on or off. But check the routes -- is there another one a mile or so down the road that you could use instead? Even if you typically park your car in the commuter lot and then get on the train or bus, there’s no reason you can’t park your car and then walk to board the bus or train at the next stop.
Park farther away from the office. If you drive yourself to work, chances are you park your car as close as possible to your workplace. That’s convenient, but why not try parking somewhere a mile down the road? Sure it’s going to take longer to actually get to work, but you’ll get time in the morning to think about the work day ahead, and you’ll get time in the evening to decompress before you drive in traffic.
Bike part of the way. Here’s another variation on the tip listed above: avoid downtown driving all together and bike the last few miles. When traffic is heavy before and after work, it’s often the last mile or two coming or going from the downtown area that’s the absolute worst. By toting your bike with you and then parking before you get to that congested zone, you’ll be saving your sanity, for one. For another, it might be a whole lot cheaper to park outside that busy downtown area. Another big advantage to this method is that you can choose how much you want to bike; some days you may be ambitious enough to go more than a few miles. On other days, a meandering mile or two may be all you want to do.
Walk to your carpool meeting point -- or to the bus or train stop. If you’re riding into work with other people, you might feel like it’s impossible to ask the others to park farther away so that you all can get in a workout. Indeed, that could be a tall order - but there’s no reason you can’t walk or bike to the place where you’re catching the train or bus, or walk to where you’re meeting your fellow commuters.
You may not be able to actively commute all the way to work, but by getting a little bit creative, you can get your body moving more throughout the work day.
Image courtesy Marcin Wichary, Flickr