active commuting

7 ways active commuting makes you healthier

Every day, millions of Australians make the commute from home to work and back again. Most of us don’t give it a second thought… It’s just a part of life, right? Well, your commute might have a bigger impact on your health than you realise. In Australia, only 5.2% of choose active commuting, with almost 80% using a car as our main form of transport. So, does your chosen commute really make a difference?

Science says yes.

Benefits of active commuting

1. It lowers risk of early death

Yes, really! One study presented earlier this year at the European Congress on Obesity suggested that people who are overweight or obesity could decrease the risk of premature death by engaging in active commuting.

Another large-scale study looked at 263,450 people, and found that cycling to work was associated with a 41% lower risk of dying overall compared to commuting by car or public transport.

2. It lowers risk of chronic disease

Research shows that cycle commuters have a 46% lower risk of developing heart disease and a 45% lower risk of developing cancer. Walkers have a 27% lower risk of developing heart disease.

3. It increases your productivity

Do you find yourself staring blankly at your screen, feeling distracted and unproductive? Well, research shows that those who commute actively are generally more productive at work.

4. It improves your mental health

It’s not just your physical health that benefits for walking or riding to work. Studies show people who commute actively are generally happier. Being physically active also helps to reduce stress, protects against depression and improves mental health.

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5. It boosts your energy levels

Weird, right? It sounds strange, but research has repeatedly shown that regular exercise has a positive impact on energy levels.

6. It helps to manage weight

More than half of Australian adults are overweight or obese. By actively commuting, you’re adding a bit of regular physical activity into your routine, which will help to manage your waistline.

7. It reduces time spent sitting

Have you heard the saying “sitting is the new smoking”? Well, science is yet to prove that conclusively, but one thing everyone agrees on is that prolonged bouts of uninterrupted sitting are bad for your health. Swapping sitting in your car for active commuting is a great way to add some extra physical activity into your routine and counteract your sedentary lifestyle.

active commuting

Overcoming the barriers

We all know exercise is good for us, and we probably know that commuting actively is a great way to get a bit more physical activity. So, why aren’t more Aussie’s doing it? There’s plenty of reasons to talk yourself out of active commuting, but there’s also lots of ways to overcome these barriers.

I live too far from work

If you live 50km from work, you’re probably not going to walk, right? But there are some things you can do to some “activity” into your commute. Park further from your office or get off public transport one station earlier to add some movement into your daily routine.

It’s too wet/cold/hot

Billy Connolly always says “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes”. Yes, getting wet on the way to work sucks, but it’s only water… Be prepared and get the right gear for your commute (and always keep an extra set of spare clothes at work, just incase!).

I’m not fit enough

If you’re worried about your health or fitness levels, then maybe it’s time to ask for advice from an exercise professional. They can help to create an individualised program to gradually build up your fitness and strength. If you’re living with a chronic condition, like heart disease, chat to your GP and an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) before getting started. An AEP is uniquely qualified to prescribe exercise to those living with chronic conditions or injuries, and will help you to be more active safely.

To find an AEP near you, click here.

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