08 November 2013

Integration, Part One: A New Commute

Like I've said before, the main reason why we've gone downhill when it comes to physical activity is because it is not integrated into our modern lifestyle. Our grandparents walked miles and labored, our parents walked and labored a bit less, and we rarely walk or labor for any reason. Our cities are not pedestrian friendly, urban sprawl has made commutes too long to walk and the computer has transformed our workplaces into endless rows of cubicle seats. 

Consequently we look for blame in the form of too much technology, or a faddish food additive, or the latest generation being dubbed as the most listless and spoiled brats in the history of... ever. We flog ourselves for being fat and lazy, eating bad foods, not having enough time, money or happiness, and being bad people. 

You know what I blame? Who cares. I'm not in the business of being another whip of self or societal-flagellation. I want to fix my problems, with as little amount of feeling sorry for myself as possible. Life is too short for that. Instead, I'm going to suggest ways we can integrate more upright activity during the day. 

This week's tip: Change your commute. 

Do you drive an hour or more to and from work? That's some bullshit. And on top of that, it's some unhealthy bullshit. Studies are now showing that the longer you sit, specifically SIT, the exponentially worse it is for your body. Worse yet, it doesn't matter if you exercise or not. Cardiovascular diseases, cancers and the risk of death all go up. Prolonged sitting is bad so we want to break up the endless hours on our bums. 

One way is to change the way we get to work. 

Invest in a bike. If your work is, say 10 miles from your home, you can start by driving 8 miles, parking somewhere and then riding the last two miles. When you're comfortable with that, you can park farther away and increase your biking time. If your work is much farther, consider riding a bike to public transportation and taking a train. While it's true you sit on a train, you are still breaking up the time spent sitting and if you want, you can stand for a few minutes here and there. Both biking and public transportation also reduce stress by getting you out of traffic. You can keep going, while everyone around you is at a frustrating standstill. 

But riding a bike is dangerous! (Take the back roads)
But I'm not fit to ride a bike! (Take it easy, and build up your commute in increments.)
But what about bad weather? (Okay, take the train those days without guilt because you usually ride.)
But I don't have money for a train pass! (Then how do you afford gas?) 
Then I have to wake up an hour before sunrise! (Take your bike on the train then ride home.) 
But... I don't want to! (Well, my friend, some things are simply up to you.)

Biking (or skating, or boarding) and public transportation may or may not take a little extra time. It depends on traffic and other factors you'll have to figure out for yourself. But the key is it integrates into your life. It becomes your way to get to work and not an extra activity you must try to schedule in. You become a little more energized, connected with society, and hardier when it comes to the elements. Speaking of, you also benefit from fresh air and some much needed sunshine. Getting out is a great physical and psychological boost. So, if you can, do it. 

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