Fitness: it’s time to consider an active commute

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Before resuming your commute where you left off, consider switching to a more active car or transit option.

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With more and more people returning to the office, it’s time to rethink our daily commute. Getting commuters to change their routines before the pandemic was nearly impossible. But after 18 months of biking or walking what was once the daily commute, the prospect of being stuck in traffic or trying to find a seat on a crowded bus or subway may be the impetus. necessary for change. So before resuming your commute where you left off, consider switching cars or public transportation to a more active alternative.

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A surprising number of Canadians have already shifted from passive to active commuting. Comparing data from the 1996 and 2016 censuses for those who work and live in the city center (defined as the part of the city within three miles of City Hall), the proportion of active commuters increased from 19 percent to 47 percent in Toronto, 16 percent to 38 percent in Montreal, 15 percent to 38 percent in Calgary, 17 percent to 39 percent in Vancouver and 22 percent to 42 percent in Ottawa-Gatineau.

During this same period, however, the number of people working in the city center decreased and the number of people working outside the city center increased. Combined with the growing number of workers who live 25 km or more from the city center, overall, the daily commutes of Canadians take up an increasing portion of the day, with Torontonians traveling the longest distances to get there. at work.

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While some people view their commute as a chance to read or catch up on emails, many see getting to and from work the most stressful part of the day. But a long journey is more than just an inconvenience. It steals precious personal time at the start and end of the day, time that could be used in many ways other than behind the wheel or on public transport.

In contrast, commuters who walk or cycle to work report lower stress levels and are more likely to express satisfaction with their work / life balance. And then there are the health benefits. Active commuters are more likely to have a lower BMI and a reduced risk of obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure. They also excel in their weekly dose of exercise. Active commuters accumulate about 80 percent of the recommended amount of weekly physical activity to get to and from the office. In fact, the Global Advocacy for Physical Activity (GAPA) states that active movement is “the most convenient and sustainable way to increase daily physical activity.” in your long term health.

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There is also an advantage for the environment. The transportation sector, responsible for about a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, and reducing the number of trips made by gasoline-powered vehicles has the potential to reduce the amount of pollutants in the air. we breathe.

If you still don’t see yourself cycling or walking to the office every morning, keep in mind that active commuting doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Biking to and from work one or two days a week is a great way to adjust to a new routine. And for anyone who is intimidated by the distance of the commute, consider combining public transportation with biking, walking, or running. And there is always the option of an electric bike, which speeds up commuting and allows you to reduce the effort on days when energy reserves are low.

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Finding the right mix of passive and active transportation comes down to evaluating the impact of four separate variables: convenience, speed, cost and reliability. For people living in the city center, walking or cycling generally scores high for all four considerations, which is why so many city dwellers opt for an active commute. Not to mention that many cities in Canada have improved their cycling infrastructure, with more dedicated bike lanes and bike lending services, making active commuting easier than it was a decade ago.

For those who live in the suburbs, walking or cycling to work is likely to take longer and be less convenient than taking the car or public transport. But with return-to-work protocols providing more flexibility in the coming months, now is a good time to see if your employer is willing to put in place an environment that supports active travel. Whether it’s flexibility in working hours, facilities for storing gear and / or bikes, and access to showers or places to change and tidy up after an active commute, now is the time. suitable for a conversation. The right commute is an essential part of establishing a new post-pandemic work / life balance that is good for your health and for the health of the environment.

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