Friday, May 26, 2006

Could you walk (or bike) to more places?

There are probably times-- at least occasionally, and maybe regularly-- when you drive or take public transportation when you really could walk or bike instead.  It's only recently that I've begun to truly appreciate the benefits of walking-- it's good exercise, it saves money, and sometimes (believe it or not!) it can even save time. But in my experience, it takes a lot of effort to switch over.

Part of the problem, as usual, is our habits.  We are in the habit of traveling somewhere a certain way (by public transit or car), and so we don't really even think about getting there a different way (walking or biking).  I'm all too familiar with this!  To successfully transition over, there are a series of stages:

1.  ...
[Not even thinking about the possibility of traveling another way!]
2.  I can't walk/bike there, because it's too far/too hot/too cold/I have too much to carry/I don't have time.
3.  Well, maybe I could try it once, on a nice day when I'm not in a rush, just to see how it goes.
4.  Hmm, every time I walk/bike there I could save $X in bus fare/gas.  I should try to do it occasionally.
5.  Every time I don't walk/bike there, it costs me $X in bus fare/gas.  I should try to do it as much as possible!

When you get to #5, you're establishing a new habit!  But the most crucial steps are the first few, getting from #1 to #2 to #3.  So, I want to challenge you to take a minute to really think about your options. 

Go ahead, I'll wait!

Okay, great.  Now if you're stuck in all those objections in #2, here are some more things to keep in mind:

There can be savings of time and money beyond the obvious ones. It depends on your personal fitness level, and what you consider sufficient exercise, but you can turn your commute (or whatever other trip you're walking/biking) into your exercise time.  Speed-walking and biking can be great exercise.  And hey, who's to say you can't bring a change of clothes and jog home from work?  It really helps to cut through the "It takes too long to walk/bike there" objections when it's freeing up time that you would have spent on a regular workout.   And if you can get into a routine where you can cut out your gym membership fees-- well, those are some big savings!

(Another note about time: walking and biking are much more predictable than public transit or driving.  If I know it takes me 30 minutes to walk somewhere, I know exactly when to leave in order to arrive on time, and there's no worries about trains being delayed or hitting unexpected traffic.  This can save a lot of stress!)

A few more miscellaneous perks:

  • Feeling more refreshed and energetic in the morning
  • A great way to relax and unwind at the end of the day
  • Noticing new places to explore, and generally being more aware of your surroundings than when you're speeding past them
  • Feeling the sunshine on your skin (okay, this is not always a good thing when it gets too hot-- bring lots of water!)
  • Being environmentally friendly (if you're substituting it for driving)


~Dawn said...

I'm doing this with my Scooter, I go on nice days and then challenge myself to get out there on windy and cold days.
This way as it gets colder I have fewer excuses to stop me and I use my car less and less.

jengod said...

I've started biking to or from work a couple of days a week, and it's absolutely wonderful. I can't believe I haven't been doing it this whole time.