Walk, Bike or Roll: How to Add Active Transportation to Your Day

Published on September 30, 2021

Woman biking to work

While I can’t deny the convenience of driving and the freedom it gives me, sometimes I truly hate driving. I hate wasting money on gas every month. I hate when I have to pay for parking. I hate accidentally getting speeding tickets. I also struggle with the fact that this mode of transportation increases my carbon emissions. All of these reasons are why I turned to active transportation to transform my daily commute.

Sometimes driving ruins my day. Whether it’s due to traffic or a rude encounter on the road, tight parking jobs or endless construction, sometimes I start my morning already stressed out — just from my driving commute.

It’s not just me. Research shows that mood is lower during morning commutes due to congestion, crowding and unpredictability. People who walk or cycle to work are more satisfied with their commute than those who travel by car — and especially those who use public transport.

Azra Chatur on her active commute, riding her bike down the street
Writer Azra Chatur is pictured during her active commute. Photo courtesy Azra Chatur. 

Active Transportation Offers Countless Benefits

While driving may be convenient, active transportation is a great alternative as it offers environmental, health and financial benefits. It’s a mode of transportation that many of us used to seamlessly integrate into our lives. As a child, I would always walk to school or bike over to a friend’s house. But as an adult, I struggled with how and when I could integrate active transportation into my life. 

However, with a little bit of trial and error, I found a balanced approach that allows me to move more during my daily commute. Here are my tips and tricks on how to incorporate an active commute into your own life.

How to Incorporate Active Transportation Into Your Day

1. Live Close to Where You Work

When you first enter the workforce, you won’t necessarily get to pick where you work. You might also be working multiple jobs. However, when you do land a permanent and stable position, consider moving closer to work. This is likely going to be the place that you commute to the most.

Your active commute also needs to be attainable. If you’re working a standard eight-hour workday, you won’t be too thrilled to spend three hours a day walking. By making your trip attainable, you’ll ensure you’re not wiped out by the time you get to work. Or be so tired when you get home that you can’t do anything else but flop on the couch.

2. Ask Yourself if You Need to Drive

One of the most seamless ways I incorporate active transportation into my life is by simply asking myself if I need to drive to get somewhere or if walking or cycling there is possible.

For simple errands like heading to the pharmacy or the library, I never regret choosing to walk. If you live in a neighborhood that allows these amenities to be nearby, take advantage of it! Although active transportation may take a little bit longer, it’s such a simple way to boost your step count. Plus, self-powered travel is an ideal way to incorporate green travel into your life.

3. Be Realistic

Maximizing active transportation is great but we also need to set our own boundaries. It doesn’t need to be your only mode of transportation. You can still drive.

Do you need to cycle when there’s an insane thunderstorm? No. Should you be late to work because your alarm didn’t go off and your walking time will throw off your schedule? No.   

Be realistic with your expectations for yourself and your expectations for an active commute.

4. Check the Weather

An active commute means that you’re susceptible to the weather conditions in a different way from driving. You won’t be protected from the elements.

Ensure that you always check the weather before embarking on your commute. Dress appropriately and be prepared. The weather may look one way in the morning and totally different in the evening.

You should also know and recognize your own limits. Someone else might be comfortable cycling through a snowstorm and you may not be. And that’s okay.

5. Motivate Yourself

What’s your motivation for wanting to incorporate active transportation into your life? Everyone is different but here’s mine. An active commute allows me to never worry about parking, traffic or speeding tickets. That’s a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.  

I also start and end my day by working off anxiety during my commute. I feel happier and relaxed. Walking in particular is a natural mood booster — even adding just one brisk 15-minute walk a day has benefits. It’s an added bonus for me that I’ve completed my cardio for the day during my commute!

Choose a Balanced Approach for Active Transportation

Cyclist riding through the park

I chose a balanced approach, so I still use my car. I’ve committed a few days of the week to an active commute when heading to work and I always try to walk when I’m doing errands. I’ve noticed a sizeable reduction in my monthly gas bill. I love knowing that in shifting the way I commute, I’m doing a small part to better the earth and I save money in the process.

Consider implementing these tips to integrate active transportation into your life. Believe me, in whatever amount you choose to have it in your life, it’s worth it!

Cheers to moving more 🥂! Today we’re toasting to physical health tips that will boost your mood and improve your health and fitness. Power up your active commute with a walking meditation — benefits include reduced stress and an overall improvement in quality of life!

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The Author
Azra Chatur, BScPharm, is an Edmonton-based freelance writer. She loves sharing positive, uplifting and actionable stories with her readers.