For most of us, the idea of getting fit on the way to work seems impractical and exhausting. But you shouldn’t knock what you haven’t tried. There are active alternatives to the daily commute that will free you from the frustrations and irritations of trudging through traffic jams.
Around 70% of journeys to work in England and Wales are less than six miles, yet the majority are made by car. But as cities become more congested and we become increasingly inactive, active commuting is in all our interests.
Drivers are more susceptible to stress, especially during the busy rush hour when traffic jams, road-works and hold-ups through congested city centres can bring about ‘road rage’ in even the most laid back of motorists.
Not only will you be affected while you’re behind the wheel. Commuting by car has been linked to high blood pressure, tension, reduced performance in specific tasks and bad moods after the working day has finished. Physical symptoms include stiff neck, tiredness, lower back pain, difficulty in focusing and anger.
The picture doesn’t get that much brighter in you choose to let someone else do the driving. Travelling by bus or train renders passengers totally inactive for extended periods of time, which is made all the worse if your job binds you to your desk.
Cycle routes, cycle lanes, traffic-free paths, parks, pedestrian crossings and designated walking areas make cycling and walking to work much easier. It’s also one of the easiest ways for workers to fit physical activity into their day – the journey has to be done and doesn’t call on any additional effort.
For short journeys between 15-30 minutes, which can be doubled when travelling on busy city-centre roads, walking or cycling can be quicker and is considerably more refreshing than being cooped up in a car.
BUT WHAT IF …?
If you face a long and impractical journey to work, you don’t have to distance yourself from active commuting. Why not try a ‘park and ride’ or park and walk’. Park a little further away from the office and cycle or walk the last 10 or 15 minutes. And if you catch the bus think about getting off a stop or two early. The return journey will help you effortlessly notch up your exercise quota, freeing you up for the rest of the day.
Not only will you benefit above your colleagues from the obvious health advantages, it’s a great way to take your mind away from work and soothe any aggravations accumulated throughout the day.
You will arrive at work with a clearer head ready to go without the need of a coffee pick-me-up. Longer term you could expect to firm up, lose weight, and improve your heart rate.
Chances are you will save £’s as well as lb’s. Even if you’re spending as little as £1.20 a day on fares or petrol, changing to cycling or walking could save over £200 a year. And if the commute costs more the savings are even bigger!