By: Tayler Glenn
Did you know that full-time employees in America spend an average of 30 minutes commuting to work each morning? That time has only increased as commuting distance has increased and traffic congestion has worsened, especially in large cities. Some people’s commutes can stretch up to 3 hours per day! This can add up to 5-27 hours per week sitting in your car! It’s no secret that sitting for long periods of time is bad for you, so this news doesn’t bode well for those of us who tack those hours onto the hours we spend sitting behind a desk. It’s time for a change. Check out these 3 healthier alternatives to your morning commute!
Driving is, in fact, the worst.
Driving is stressful. Traffic is stressful. Being late is stressful. None of these are groundbreaking observations, but it is probably affecting you more than you thought it was! Not only are you 44% more likely to be overweight than those who use even public transportation, but that time in the driver’s seat isn’t doing you any emotional or psychological favors either. It takes only 20 minutes of your commute to make you more likely to develop chronic stress, which causes both physical and emotional exhaustion, and 35 minutes to make you significantly more cynical . You carry this stress with you into your day which can affect your social interactions as well! So, what can you do?
A better way to commute:
1. Public Transportation
While it may not seem like a good alternative, those who switch their daily drive for public transportation to commute are actually 27% less likely to have high blood pressure, 34% less likely to have diabetes, and 44% less likely to be overweight. In fact, studies show that women who take public transportation rather than driving tend to be 5 pounds lighter on average.
Researchers think this is because those who walk to their bus stop or train station may be walking farther to and from the station than those that bike, walk and, definitely drive. Those who take public transportation, especially during the busy morning and afternoon hours, often find themselves standing as well. It may not seem like much, but that’s the best part: those small changes don’t feel like much, but they add up over time!
If walking to work is out of the question but you still want to be a little more active, how about hopping on your bike? The number of bike commuters in the United States has gone up sharply in the past decade, perhaps because biking offers the highest number of benefits compared to driving. [1,2]
While the actual calories burned depends on speed, number of stops, and topography, biking offers improved cardiovascular and aerobic fitness, lowers blood pressure, and even boosts energy! Still not enough? Imagine how much money you’d save on gas over the next month if you switched over. The numbers may surprise you!
If you’re close enough or live in an area that allows you to get to work on foot, running or walking to work and back might just be the perfect option! Like riding a bike, you get to save a ton on gas over time, and you get the health benefits, too!
It gives you a chance to wake up and get your blood flowing at the beginning of your day and an opportunity to de-stress and clear your head after a long, stressful day. Even better than driving or biking, however, is that you get to skip the stress of stop-and-go traffic! Running is an option as well for those whose employers offer showers at work (an increasingly common trend over the past few years) or enjoy getting their daily runs out of the way early in the morning. Instead of waking up at 5 a.m. to rush through your morning routine, why not take advantage of the perks of your job?
No matter which way you look at it, driving isn’t helping you create a healthy lifestyle for yourself. Whether it’s the stress, the weight gain, or the dangers of being on the road, there are a number of reasons to take a step back and re-evaluate how you spend your mornings. Give it a try! You might just discover a better, more refreshing way to begin your day.
How do you get to work each day? Have you made a change and love your commute? Let us know in the comments!
1 This Is the Healthiest Way to Commute to Work
2. In U.S., New Data Show Longer, More Sedentary Commutes
3 Public Transportation May Be Better Than Driving