Walking or biking to work takes me at least three times as long as driving would. I get sunburnt, rained on and wind blown, but I still haven’t bought a car. Even if you already own a car, here are the big five reasons I love walking to work.
I experience less stress when I walk.
Seriously, every time I borrow a car, I’m blown away by how stressful driving is; there are little old ladies crossing in front of you when you’re late to a meeting, crazy cyclists doing maneuvers without signalling, green lights that seem to last for about three seconds. Speeding doesn’t exist when you’re walking to work. My commute takes me 35 minutes on foot and there’s no way to make it go faster, so I consistently give myself 40 minutes to get to the office. I spend that time looking at beautiful gardens, humming to myself, or chatting with my sister on the East Coast. There’s no rushing, no speeding, no getting irritable at long red lights. I arrive at work calm, collected and ready to sit down and create cool new stuff.
Biking is my built-in exercise routine.
I would love to practice yoga or go for a hike every day, but sometimes there’s so much on my plate, it feels like going to a yoga class is “wasting time.” (Reality check: there’s no such thing as wasting time. You’re always investing your time in one project or another; sometimes that project is a healthy social network or a wealth of knowledge on professional women’s soccer.)
Even on days when I don’t make room to exercise, I get my 30 minutes of raised heart rate in by cranking up hills on my way to work.
I get quality phone-time with my far-away besties.
When do you get time to talk to your best friend from college, or the girls you grew up with? Sometimes my days are so full, I’ll lay in bed at night and think of all the people on the East Coast (including my mother) who I haven’t called in weeks or months.
Walking to work gives me two 35-minute opportunities to check in with the people I love but don’t see very often.
Time in the sunshine!
I get just over an hour a day out in the sun. I am aware of how much exposure I can safely get, so I wear a hat and a shirt that covers my shoulders, but my arms and legs soak up as much vitamin D as they can. Here are some great things that UV-produced vitamin D can do for you, like helping to fight off infections (including colds and the flu), giving you more energy, and combating chronic achiness.
Researchers estimate that 50 percent of the general population is at risk of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency. I know this conversation might make your dermatologist squirm, but there is a lot of conflicting evidence about the “damage” that sun causes.
Here’s the bottom line: Get sun. Don’t get burned.
My brain gets time to space out.
Without a walk in the morning, my morning would look like this: get up early, do all of the things that make me feel good (write, meditate, practice yoga, eat a veggie-packed breakfast), get myself looking as awesome as I want to feel, and then…. tear over to the office to peacefully counsel women on loving their bodies?
It doesn’t really fit. I’d rather float from a beautiful morning into a beautiful work day, and driving just doesn’t feel like floating. It feels like a battle. Even on the rare not-so-beautiful Boulder morning, I put on my weather gear and walk to work, keeping in constant communion with the Universe.
How do you do your commute? If you drive, what do you notice about the quality of the time you spend commuting? Experiment with walking or biking to work, if possible. If you’re not able to bike or walk, you can still explore ways of making your commute more peaceful and soul-feeding. What could some of these ways be?