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Get Active for National Heart Month

Keara Mehlert
Keara Mehlert February 5, 2013 Keara Mehlert is a former Property & Development Services Program Director at Arlington Transportation Partners.
ATP TAKEAWAY: February is National Heart Month. Consider incorporating exercise into your commute to lower your risk of heart disease and other health problems!

How have your New Year’s resolutions worked out so far? Still biking to work or walking for twenty minutes at lunch? If you've fallen slightly off track, here’s a great reason to get back into it: National Heart Month. A national initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and several other organizations, National Heart Month seeks to educate people about the dangers and risk factors of heart disease as well as provide tips and encouragement to live a healthier lifestyle.

In addition to a healthy diet and not smoking, one of the most important and effective ways to combat heart disease and maintain a healthy lifestyle is through exercise. The CDC recommends adults engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of the week to reduce the risk of heart disease as well as other chronic medical conditions. While it can be difficult to find 30 minutes each day to exercise, incorporating physical activity into your daily commute is an easy and effective way to improve your health and lifestyle. Celebrate National Heart Month by checking out the tips below for having a healthier and happier commute!

Biking to work is one of the best ways to incorporate exercise into your commute! It takes a little preparation in the beginning as far as what to wear, how to pack your things, and what route to take, but once you do it a few times it’s easy to get used to. Even biking just a couple miles to work can give you an extra half hour of physical activity a day then you would driving in your car! Walking is another fun and healthy way to get to work – while most of us don’t live within walking distance from our jobs, you can incorporate walking for either part of your commute or during the day. As a Gold Level Walk Friendly Community, Arlington is a great place for pedestrians, so take the opportunity to get out during the workday and walk during lunch or have a walking meeting outside.

Bikers and Walkers in ArlingtonWalking and biking are also great ways to solve the “last mile” issue faced by many commuters. Instead of driving or getting a ride to/from the Metro station or bus stop, try walking or biking there instead. Just a 15 minute walk each way to a transit station can help you meet the recommended physical activity levels. Most Metro stations also have bike racks so you can bike to the station and leave your bike there during the day. Capital Bikeshare is also a great option for short trips if your home or office is more than walking distance, and it’s free for the first 30 minutes. If you’re looking for more exercise during the workday, CaBi is also helpful for quick midday trips such as running errands or going out to lunch. See if your company offers Capital Bikeshare corporate memberships to employees!

Not only do biking and walking have great physical benefits, there are also mental health advantages to incorporating active transportation into your commute. Two recent articles (here and here) have shown increases in happiness and overall improvement of one’s mood when biking or walking, compared to lower levels when driving alone. Riding transit can also help you avoid traffic and unpredictable drivers (a new report shows that the DC region tops the list for worst congested cities), therefore reducing stress while on your way to work. These mental health benefits can have a significant impact on your heart health and blood pressure, and put you less at risk for heart disease and other health problems.

Your commute is an easy way to become healthier and add exercise into your daily routine. This month, get active and try one of the suggestions above to help reduce your risk for heart disease!

Contact ATP for more information or to learn about the commuting benefits that you and your company can take advantage of.

Tags: Bike, Walking, Health


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