Save Money By Turning Your Commute Into A Workout
by Sam Peters
Gas prices are expected to hit record highs across much of the Western world this summer. Thanks to tension with Iran, political instability in the Middle East, OPEC restrictions, and a skyrocketing demand among middle classes in developing countries, the cost of oil has been rising rapidly in recent months and is sure to provide sticker shock for anyone filling up their tank. At a time when many families are struggling under a stagnant economy, the added cost surely comes as an unwelcome one.
So what can the individual commuter do? On the one hand, they could sit in their car, inch their way through rush hour traffic, and pay dearly for gas as a result. On the other hand, however, they could use the time “wasted” by their commute and repackage it for a much healthier and more cost-efficient endeavor: a workout.
Commuting to work via foot or bike can be a great way to start your day, finish your day, and stay fit in the process. Other benefits include the incentive to exercise (even if you don’t feel like it, you have no choice in the afternoon but to bike home), the mental transition it offers (the workout helps wake you up in the morning and de-stress at night), and the aforementioned cost savings (running to work will cost you the price of a pair of shoes a couple times a year; biking will require minimal maintenance and purchase costs). In theory there’s really not much to dislike.
In reality, of course, there are practical and logistical reasons that may make such a “workout commute” impossible. You might live many miles from your place of employment, for example. You might have no possible route at your disposal that doesn’t travel on dangerous and congested roads. And you may sweat too much from a workout commute to ever look presentable in your office.
But if these issues can be overcome, exercising your way to work is a worthwhile pursuit to explore. First, let’s take a look at the cost savings that a “workout commute” offers:
Assuming a 10 mile commute and a vehicle with average gas mileage, you can expect to pay around $200 per month on related costs.
These costs include gas, maintenance, insurance, and depreciation.
Cost of commuting via bike:
Biking requires the upfront purchase of a reliable bicycle, but once that purchase is made the maintenance and supplies expenses are quite minimal. Expect to pay around $10 per month on average.
Cost of commuting via a run:
As one of the most utilitarian sports out there, a runner really needs nothing more than a pair of good shoes to get going. Good running shoes can get expensive and wear down quickly. Still, if you need to buy a new pair every 4 months, you’ll still pay only $20 per month on your workout commute costs.
So, as you can see, both running and biking are far cheaper alternatives to driving a car.
Now that you’re convinced, here are a few tips to keep in mind if you choose to go this route:
Between the stresses of work and the responsibilities of daily life, it can often be easy to forget that your workout commute can make for a physically draining experience. Consequently, many people embark on their commute without properly hydrating themselves that morning or during the day. You can address this issue by buying a cheap bottle carrying water with you at all times.
Have a change of clothes:
Workers often hesitate to consider biking or running to work because they fear that they will smell for the remainder of the day. While some people are incapable of smelling good after a run, most of us can eliminate any traces of perspiration by wiping off our sweat, changing clothes, and applying deodorant as soon as the workout concludes. It is consequently always helpful to have a spare pair of clothes waiting at the office.
If you aren’t accustomed to regular exercise, a daily bike ride to and from work will likely seem incredibly taxing and daunting. The key is to start slow. Don’t leave your home on a Monday morning and decide that you will run to work every day from here on out; rather, start by doing this once a week, and then gradually increase the number of days you commute via foot or bicycle.
Switch it up:
The workout commute works best when you enjoy the process and the fitness dividends it brings. On this note, it can be helpful to view your run or your bike ride more like an exercise routine than merely a way of getting to the office. This can be done by setting goals (example: racing yourself home every Friday and going for a new record) and by switching things up (vary your paces and routes on a regular basis).
These are just a few tips to keep in mind when deciding to use your legs (instead of your car) to get to work. While a workout commute is not feasible or possible for everybody, those that have the ability to do it can realize tremendous fitness benefits and cost savings as a result. At a time when gas prices are skyrocketing and people get less and less physical activity in their daily routine, both of these results are surely welcome ones.
(This guest post is written by Samantha Peters, a blogger who enjoys writing about ways to save money and live healthier. Sam commutes to work every day with a pair of running shoes on her feet and a water bottle in her hand. She uses a reliable water softener to purify her water.)