Think outside the gym: The best way to get fit is with our daily commute
09/03/2018 // Edsel Cook // Views

Most people believe fitness involves hitting the gym and working out for a couple of hours every few days. An article on Scientific suggested that getting plenty of incidental movements during the daily commute is a much better way of getting fit and staying healthy.

Whereas exercise uses specific groups of muscles, the daily commute involves many more parts of your body. When you use public transportation like buses or trains, you are switching between walking, standing, and shifting your body to keep your balance while the vehicle is moving.

Even a car-share program contributes to incidental movements. You will need to walk or ride a bike to the garage or parking lot of the shared car, and you will be walking home after you deposit your borrowed vehicle.

Furthermore, you spend more time commuting each year than you do exercising. A U.S. Census Bureau report showed that the average American devotes 51 minutes to the daily commute. In contrast, most adults are only able to spare around half that time for regular exercise. (Related: Go dancing! Study shows it prevents age-related decline better than traditional exercise.)

People who take the daily commute are happier and healthier than car drivers

Commuting is healthier than driving as it not only allows you to move around during the trip, but it also reduces your stress and improves your mood.

A McGill University (McGill) study interviewed more than 3,300 university faculty, staff, and students on the amount of time they spend traveling and waiting. It also surveyed their comfort and safety during the trip, the cost of transportation, and the amount of harassment encountered during the daily commute.


The study reported that the participants are happiest while walking to the university. They were also happy when they rode the train or rode bicycles. On the other hand, participants who rode in cars, buses, or subway trains said they were less satisfied.

The McGill researchers also noted that the travel time also affected satisfaction. The longer the commute, the less happy the commuter.

Surprisingly, this disenchantment with long commutes did not apply as much to participants who rode bikes, took the bus, or walked to their destination. A trip needed an additional 10 minutes to instill dissatisfaction in bikers, bus-takers, and walkers.

A different study from the U.K. reported that commuters who traveled by bicycle were much less likely to develop or die from various diseases. Bikers experienced 52 percent lower risk of death from heart disease and 40 percent from cancer. Furthermore, they were 46 percent less likely to develop cardiovascular disease and 40 percent less vulnerable to cancer.

The same study also compared the risk of dying from accidents for bicycle users and car drivers. The NHS report said that the death risk for bikers was only 52 percent of the risk for car drivers.

Take long walks during commutes to improve your health

In addition to avoiding deadly disease, walking to one's destination conferred many additional health benefits. Taking long walks every day improves the creative thinking of people, helps protect against obesity, and leads to a better sense of well-being.

Regular walkers could also concentrate better and remain calm in stressful situations. They were also much likelier to get their coworkers, friends, and spouses interested in walking as well.

Walking is also proven to reduce blood pressure and mitigate the effects of diabetes. Furthermore, walking outdoors in environments with plenty of plants can induce "forest bathing," where the brain enters a meditative state.

So start considering all the ways you can get exercise during your daily commute. And try to work as much walking as possible into your routine.

For more articles about natural activities that improve your health, simply visit

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