February is American Heart Month! According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, affecting hundreds of thousands of people every year. In addition, cardiovascular disease costs the U.S. over $300 billion a year due to the cost of health care, medications, and lost productivity. However, heart disease is preventable and controllable by having a healthy lifestyle - including eating right, not smoking, and exercising regularly.
Many people may not realize that their commute could be having an adverse impact on their heart health due to the hours sitting in traffic each week. However, incorporating physical activity on your way to work can help you get the recommended amount of exercise each day. Studies have shown that taking transit, walking, and biking to work have significant physical and mental health benefits that not only benefit commuters, but their employees as well. While biking and walking to work are obvious solutions to having a healthy commute, they aren’t always the most feasible for those who live more than a few miles away from the office. For those who live further away, here are three ways commuters can get some exercise during the workday!
Bike and/or walk that first and last mile. If you don’t live or work right next to a transit station or a commuter park and ride lot, try biking or walking there and then using transit to get to and from work! Many Metro stations have bicycle parking facilities or a Capital Bikeshare station nearby.
Take transit and get off a stop earlier. Out of the 11 Metro stations in Arlington, most are a mile or less apart from each other. Instead of getting off at the usual stop near your office, exit a stop earlier and walk the extra 15 minutes to get your blood pumping to start of the day!
Get outside! If your only choice is to drive to work, make an effort to get out of the office for at least 15 minutes each day. Have a walking meeting with coworkers, run some errands using Capital Bikeshare bike, or of course you can always walk at lunch!
Some of these active commute options might take a little more time than your normal routine, but the health benefits are well worth it! Employers, you benefit too from healthy employees – lower health care costs, reduced absenteeism and higher productivity can have a significant impact on your bottom line! Take advantage of American Heart Month and start encouraging healthy and active commutes!