Could Your Commute Change Your Health?

Most of us live busy, fast-paced lives. Between work, errands, preparing meals, maintaining the home, spending time with family and friends, and just trying to keep up with our to-do lists, it can be hard to find time each day to be physically active and to move our bodies.

But physical activity is really important for maintaining good overall health and promoting longevity. And while making sure we work out regularly is a great place to start, we can also boost our overall activity levels outside of the time we designate as “exercise.” It can make a big difference if we also learn to move our bodies more in our daily routines, such as while doing chores around the house, playing with our children, or even commuting.

If you are having a hard time fitting enough physical activity into your daily routine, you may want to consider a more active form of commuting.

Taking advantage of commuting time

Many people spend a significant portion of their day commuting to and from work. Sometimes, commuting can take up to several hours of each workday. And often, those hours are spent sedentary, sitting in a car.

What if you were to shift some of that commuting time to time spent being physically active? By choosing to walk, bike, or take public transportation (for all or even part of your commute), you can kill two birds with one stone — getting to where you need to go and giving your health a boost while you are at it.

Benefits of actively commuting for your health

People who opt for active modes of transportation on their commutes show higher overall levels of physical activity. In one study, the results showed that people who walked to work had 60% more time of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week compared to people who drove to work. For the people who walked to work, that time spent walking accounted for almost 50% of their weekly physical activity levels.

Researchers have shown that increasing your level of physical activity through an active mode of commuting (walking, biking, or even public transportation) can benefit your health and decrease risk for disease.

Some of the major benefits of actively commuting include:

  1. Losing weight
  2. Reducing blood pressure
  3. Having a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease
  4. Lowering your chance of all-cause mortality
  5. Decreasing depressive symptoms
  6. Experiencing an increase in overall wellbeing

In many cases, the benefits of actively commuting are striking. For example, one study showed that three bike trips to work per week were associated with 20% fewer risk factors for heart disease.[6]

And it isn’t just physical health that benefits from an active commute. People’s mental health and wellbeing benefits as well. This can result in being better able to handle the week and work effectively. A study in Preventative Medicine found that people who commuted by car were 13% more likely to be under strain and unable to concentrate as compared to active commuters.[9]

Can you opt for an active commute?

If you are able, walking, biking, or even taking public transportation to work can be a huge benefit for your health and wellbeing.

Not everyone lives close enough to walk to work, or even to bike. So when choosing an active commute, the outcome might not look the same for everyone. But there are many ways to adjust your routine — even if ever so slightly — that can help you to move your body more.

Whether that means using public transportation (which requires more activity than just sitting in your car), parking farther away from work to fit in a walk on one end of your commute, or finding some combination of it all, there is a solution for everyone that includes more time spent active and less time spent sitting in a car on your daily commute.

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Chelsea Clark

Chelsea is a writer and certified health and wellness coach passionate about guiding others through their own healing journeys. Walks, meditation, yoga, eating whole foods, and finding joy in each day are practices that help her to live the healthiest and happiest life possible. Find out more about Chelsea and her work here: www.cultivatebalancecoaching.com