by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
As an avid walker and bike-rider, I have to admit that I am biased in my views about biking or walking to work -- but I am also an excellent case-study of someone who has become much healthier since taking up biking and walking several years ago. I also spent the last year biking to and from my job at a local university.
So... why should you buy those new walking shoes or invest in a good bike? Here are my six reasons for riding a bike or walking to work:
1. It's efficient. Biking or walking to work allows you to accomplish two things with the same activity. First, choosing to bike or walk solves the issue of how to get to work. Second, by biking or walking you improve your health, fitness, and mental outlook. In fact, biking or walking to work is both efficient and effective.
2. It's healthful. There's no question that walking or biking to work at a decent pace (no need to set records here) provides excellent cardiovascular exercise, offering many health benefits, including weight loss, muscle tone development, as well as lowering your blood pressure and stress levels while also reducing your risk of heart attack, hypertension, osteoporosis, and type II diabetes.
3. It's cheap. Consider the gas, tolls, parking, and upkeep on a car or the monthly bus or train pass you are currently paying versus the cost of walking or biking to work. You may need to invest in a new pair of walking shoes or a better bike, but once you've made that purchase, you have minimal additional costs. And if you're really lucky and work for an organization that has a workplace wellness program, you may even be able to get the shoes or bike at a reduced price -- or even free.
4. It's rewarding. Besides the psychological benefits of feeling better about yourself, walking or biking to work also offers very clear mental benefits -- from adrenaline and endorphins -- that boost your mood and provide you with a sense of well-being. Because it's often a solitary experience, walking or biking also provides opportunities for deep thoughts that tap into your creative side, leading to new ideas and ways to solve problems.
5. It's green. You don't have to be a diehard environmentalist to appreciate that by walking or biking to work you are doing something to personally reduce the negative impact of other forms of transportation. One expert states that for every four miles ridden on a bicycle (or walked presumably), you are keeping 15 pounds of pollutants out of the atmosphere. No fossil fuels, no ozone depletion, no deadly pollutants.
6. It's fun. Driving to or from work is often stressful (or at best boring), while biking or walking is always an adventure. It's relaxing -- especially on the way home -- to know you have had another good day at work and are now helping yourself live a longer and healthier life by biking or walking. And no matter where you live, you're bound to encounter people or things in nature that make you appreciate life.
Learn how to get started biking or walking to work by reading these articles:
- Save Money, Help the Environment, and Increase Your Health by Biking to Work
- Walking to Work to Save Money, Help the Environment, and Increase Your Health
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