Whether you live in a town of 2,000 or a city of 2 million, is likely that your job involves a commute. The average American commutes around 30 min to their job, and even those who are allowed to work from home often commute to coworking spaces or coffee shops. Even though commuting has become so common, most of us still haven’t mastered it. Whether you take the public transit or drive yourself, most people would not describe their daily commute as the highlight of their day. There are ways to switch to a healthy commute though.
So, is that time you spend every day getting from point a to point b destined to be an unpleasant guarantee or are there ways you can make this process a little less daunting. First, let’s look at the negative health effects associated with the modern commute.
How harmful is your commute?
Obviously, not all commute times are created equal. Some people commute 15 min while others are travelling for nearly two hours at a time to get to their place of employment. Sadly the amount of time you spend commuting each day has different health effects. Some of which include:
- Increase in bad cholesterol
- Blood sugar spikes
- High blood pressure
- Worsened anxiety
- Symptoms of depression
- Lower back pain
All of these negative effects on your health sound pretty serious, and most of them only get worse the longer you spend commuting. Additionally, a lot of them are further made worse if the time commuting is spent in a car. Those who drive to work every day have less satisfaction with life, have worsened anxiety, and spend more time immobile, which leads to heart and weight problems. Some of this is due to the stress of interacting with other drivers, traffic delays, and concern about being late to work.
Those who take public transportation to work have stresses of their own, but they are often not as bad as those who drive.
If you’re faced with a long daily commute, it may feel like there isn’t much you can do about it. You can’t just change jobs, and not everyone has access to a robust public transit system that can take them easily to and from their work. However there are plenty of thing you can to do make that daily trek a little less stressful, and a little more healthy.
One easy way to make your morning a little bit healthier is to walk. This can be as easy as parking farther away from your building, and walking a few extra minutes to work. Or getting off at an earlier train stop and walking a bit farther if you commute by public transit. This extra walk will not only make you feel better after sitting for such a long time, but it can be great for your heart and weight too.
Arrive Earlier, Leave Earlier
This certainly isn’t an option for everyone, but for those who have flexible start and end times try adjusting them to fit the rush hour traffic. By leaving for work and leaving work before rush hour starts, you can cut wasted time off your day. You can also cut out a lot of stress and anxiety, even if it does mean waking up roughly an hour earlier.
Consider Your Music Choice
A simple way to make the commute a bit more relaxing can be to pick a relaxing soundtrack to your morning. Piano music, classical music, or another quiet musical choice can really take the edge off and set your mind at ease.
Change your Mindset
Your commute only has to be as unpleasant as you want it to be. Instead of thinking about it as something you have to do, think of it as a daily break. Whether you choose to spend your time in the car listening to audiobooks, podcasts, your favorite music, or even talking on the phone to friends and family. Provided the activities aren’t distracting and are hands-free, there are plenty of fun ways you can pass the time. If you take public transit you have even more options! From reading to watching your favorite shows, use your commute to do the things you love without interruption!
Keep Healthy Snacks on Hand
A simple idea but one it’s easy to forget about. Keeping things like fruit, a smoothie, or crackers on hand during a commute can make it a bit more enjoyable, especially if you don’t have time for breakfast.
There is certainly no way to avoid all of the negative health effects of a commute. But you can counteract them with positive mindfulness and healthy choices. Whatever it takes to make that hour in the car every morning a bit more of an enjoyable experience.