Whether you're trying to add a little extra exercise into your day, or just trying to get ANY exercise, commuting to work can be what you're looking for! Commuting to work doesn't have to be stagnant time spent in the car, stuck in traffic, wishing you were still at home with the dog. Instead, you can turn your commute into a workout!
Now, I know that sounds intimidating, especially if you live more than 5 miles from work. It doesn't have to be scary, and it really isn't. Turning your commute, or even just part of it, into a workout can be fun and set you up for great things.
Let's start with turning just PART of your commute into some exercise. Let's say you work too far to walk or ride your bike the entire way to work, try this: instead of parking in the row closest to your office, park at the very end of the parking lot. Once you're comfortable there, try parking down the street. From there, you could park down the block, or even further, and walk the rest of the way to work. The extra walk will do a couple good things for you and your body.
Gives you more time to yourself. If you work a job where people are constantly in and out of your office, or you're on the phone all the time, then a little more "me time" never hurts. This extra 30 seconds or 10 minutes for that walk ads up over time and can not only help you bolster your step count, but it can help improve your mental well being as well!
Gives you time to prep for the day or unwind on the way out. If you've got a busy schedule at work, the thing we all need is time to process what we are doing for the day. This extra time can certainly help with that, whether you're just going over your schedule in your mind or reviewing your "To-Do" list for the day. On the way out, it gives you a little time to unwind before you get in your car and start driving home, making the drive home more relaxing and safer.
Not everyone drives to work, and that's totally okay. If you take the bus or some other form of mass transit, get off a stop early and walk the rest of the way to work. This extra time goes back to what we just talked about with parking further away, giving you more time to prep or unwind.
If you are able to walk or ride a bike all the way to work, there are some great benefits to the longer adventure:
Better physical fitness. It doesn't take a Harvard-level education to know that walking or biking to work can help improve your physical fitness. Many experts recommend hitting 10,000 daily steps to keep your body and heart healthy, and walking to work can certainly help you do that, regardless of how far you live from the office.
Lower stress levels. There have been a number of studies that have shown walking or biking to work helps reduce stress levels vs those who solely drive to work. Not only do you spend little/no time in traffic, you get to see your local neighborhoods a little more and smell the fresh air!
Saves money. This one is pretty obvious. If you're not driving as much, you don't need as much gas, therefore spending even less here. On the flip side, if you live in a city that you don't need a car and instead use Uber/taxi service, then you're spending a little less on that side as well. It all ads up, both in the wallet and the waistline.
One thing to be mindful of that not many people think of the first day or two that they want to start walking to work, make sure to invest in some quality walking/running shoes with plenty of support. Without the proper footwear, you're going to be doing some damage to your feet and ankles. So make sure you have the proper footwear (it's really okay to take a second pair of shoes to work) to ensure you have a good foundation and don't cause any issues with the added steps. If you're biking, make sure your bike is in working order. Nothing is worse than planning a bike to work and then finding out half mile down the road you have a flat tire!
Commuting to work comes in many different forms, and isn't just restricted to walking or biking the entire way from home to work. Find what works best for you, your schedule, and your environment.