Can a daily commute actually be good for us?
COVID-19 has many of us stuck at home, but that doesn’t mean we can’t “commute” anyways.
Before COVID-19 hit, commuting to work was a mundane and sometimes stressful activity for many of us. But, after almost a year of working from home… we might actually miss our daily commutes. Those of us who had to drive for hours every day pre-pandemic might be loving remote work, but those who took transit, walked, or biked have lost a routine that once got us moving.
But, there’s nothing stopping us from “commuting” anyways. Simulating a commute with daily walks comes with a range of benefits:
- Nothing beats fresh air and sunshine first thing in the morning. Getting outside can energize you for a busy day ahead, plus morning sunlight can help maintain a healthy circadian rhythm.
- A daily walking habit means you move your body, at least a little bit, every day. With all the benefits that come with daily exercise, that’s a win, especially on days when you just don’t have the motivation to leave the house.
- A commute helps you set a routine. COVID-19 has upended our habits and made us lose a sense of structure. Starting a commute can help bring a routine back to your day.
- Commuting creates a sense of separation between work and home life. It might feel easier to just roll right out of bed into work, but that probably isn’t the best thing for your work-life balance.
- Walks give us a break from screen time. For those of us spending much of our workday on a computer, a “commute” gives your eyes and brain a much-needed screen break.
- Walks give us a break from being at home. We’re a year into the COVID pandemic, our cabin fever has reached new highs, and getting outdoors is still the best, safest way to spend some time out of the house.
So, how do you start fake commuting?
- Set a route in advance. When you’re tired first thing in the morning, any distraction or inconvenience can make it harder to stick to your walk. Deciding on a route in advance makes it easier to just get up and go!
- Create a few route options. Some days you might have plenty of time, but others, you’ll be in a rush. Having a short walk route and a long one means you’ll always get some steps in, even on your busiest days.
- 15 minutes may be a good amount of time to aim for. Surveys have found that a commute of about 15 minutes feels like the ideal length of time to create a sense of separation between home and work. But, even a 5-minute walk is better than none.
- Find a buddy. Having someone to walk with can boost your motivation, so invite someone else from your household or take a socially-distanced walk with a friend.
- Pick something fun to listen to. Commuting used to be the perfect time to listen to a favorite podcast, audiobook, or playlist – why not listen while you walk? Or, ditch the headphones and enjoy the sounds of your neighborhood.
We never thought we’d miss our commutes. But, a fake commute of daily walks can give us all of the benefits with none of the stress.