For many of us, fitting more physical activity into our lives is challenging. Going to the gym sounds great but it takes time out of our already busy day. Same thing with hot yoga, spinning, or even joining an adult sports league. We’re already packing so much in and sometimes it seems like there isn’t a way to include the healthy habit of movement into the schedule.
If this sounds familiar to you consider “active transportation”. This is the term that describes using your body to move in a city, be it on foot, or by bike.
4 great reasons to use active transportation
1. First off, finances. Money! You can save heaps of money if you take up active transportation. My husband and I primarily ride our bikes to get around town. I average about 100 km per week these days and my husband around 75 km. Based on the federal automobile allowance rate of $0.54/km and riding these distances for 50 weeks per year (assuming holidays, etc.), we save about $4725 in car costs per year.
Yes, we spend a bit more on maintaining our bikes, extra groceries for fuel, and special gear for rain and snow; but, these savings are amplified greatly by saving money on parking, gym memberships, and medication to regulate our health. As a taxpayer you want your city to be supporting active transportation because it is exponentially cheaper for them to do that than it is to continue to support infrastructure for automobiles. Plus, infrastructure makes it safer for you (which saves on health care costs) and encourages more people to take on active transportation (which saves on even more health care costs).
We structure our lives so that the distances we undertake are not huge. For example, I do not sign up the kids for extra-curricular activities halfway across town, instead I choose the pool close by.
2. Environmental benefit. This is a stereotype, but an accurate one. Not every person you meet is transporting themselves actively in order to reduce their carbon footprint although many – like myself – see it as a benefit.
As a family of four, our collective 8750 km per year of cycling or walking translates into almost 2.5 tonnes of CO2 emissions saved by not using our 2015 Honda Odyssey. Those savings translate into approximately the amount of carbon dioxide that a new forest can sequester in one year. To me, that is a nice side effect of moving my body.
3. Being active role models for our kids. The more we get out, the more we normalize moving our bodies for those around us, especially our children. According to the European Cycling Federation, health benefits hugely outweigh any risks of cycling at a whopping 20 to 1. Some of these (cycling-specific) benefits include (these come from Cycling facts and figures):
- Living two years longer
- Being a more productive worker by taking less sick days
- Having a fitness level of someone 10 years younger
- Lower obesity rates
- Improved levels of well-being
Not to mention significantly reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease. I don’t know about you, but these are all effects that I can live with and they are things that I definitely want for my children.
4. It doesn’t add a lot of time to your day. Once you are all set up, actively moving yourself from one location to another rarely takes significantly more of your time; five to ten minutes more, fine, but it is time well spent and it probably takes you at least that amount of time to get ready to go to the gym (not including finding the time to actually work out).
Making the change towards active transportation can seem like a big change if you are used to driving a car most places, but it is a lot easier than you think. Besides, active transportation is multi-tasking at its finest! You get to move your body while getting where you need to go.