Perhaps you’re trying to lose a few pounds, or save more money to go on a vacation or move to a nicer apartment. Maybe you would like to reduce your stress level and just have a healthier overall lifestyle. Well good news – your daily commute to and from work can have a significant impact on all of these goals! Here are some thoughts and ideas for you to consider that can make your commute easier and help you achieve your resolutions in 2013.
If you’re trying to find ways to save money, switching from driving to public transit, biking, or walking can have an immediate impact on your wallet. According to the American Public Transportation Association’s December Transit Savings Report, DC area residents who ride public transit can save on average around $800 a month, which adds up to over to $9,600 a year. Even just taking the train, Metro, or bus a few times a week can greatly reduce the amount of money you spend on gas, parking, and vehicle maintenance. Check to see if your employer offers a transit benefit – either a transit subsidy or a pre-tax benefit can bring in significant financial savings in the long run. Riding public transit to work can also have a positive effect on your mental health. Instead of dealing with traffic and frustrating drivers, you can read, listen to music, check emails, or just relax during your commute. A less stressful commute will ultimately make you more productive during the workday and help you feel relaxed when you return home.
Public transit commuters, as well as bikers and walkers, also get significantly more exercise during the day than those who drive to work. Just by walking ten minutes to or from a transit station makes it easier to achieve the recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day. Want to incorporate even more physical activity into your commute? Get off a stop earlier than usual so you have farther to walk, or take Capital Bikeshare to your final destination – there are over 175 stations in DC and Arlington, with many more to be installed in 2013! If you live too far away to walk to work or a transit station, organizing a Walk at Lunch group with coworkers is a great way to stretch your legs, get some physical activity, and get away from your desk during the day. Stay tuned for more information about National Walk at Lunch Day coming up in the Spring!
Biking to work takes a little more preparation, but you will get more physical activity, save money, and feel happier during the day! If you have never done it before, try it just once a week to start out, or find a buddy to ride with who has a little more experience. Bike commuting is a great way to exercise on your way to and from work and you don’t have to feel guilty about skipping your workout at the gym later! There are so many resources available that give great tips on gear, bike routes, safety, and other important information that can help make you feel as comfortable as possible on your commute. Also check out recent ATP blogs (here and here) that discuss personal experiences about biking to work and how to overcome some of the typical barriers to bicycling.
So what commuting resolution will you commit to in 2013? You don't have to make huge lifestyle changes or drastically change your commute to have an impact – using a different transportation mode just once a week can make a difference, plus who knows, you might want to keep doing it 3, 4, or 5 times a week!
If you would like to learn more about improving your commute or have questions about offering commuter benefits, contact ATP today. Happy New Year everyone, see you in 2013!