WARNING: this is for the lucky people who have that rarefied luxury called time, if you are not one of one of these people, treat this as aspirational
By Hannah Jump
I like to rush around. I realise that is me. I like to be ‘doing’, and I like to be out and about. But I have also learned that sometimes it is good to take time out. My commute to work is my escape, my me time, and it can be yours too.
I am a strong advocate for walking and cycling. There is no excuse not to be outside. Even in London being outside is brilliant. I cycle to work everyday; sometimes I choose to look at the contrasting buildings rushing by, sometimes I choose to watch different people going out about their different businesses, sometimes I choose to look at the bum of the person in front. But through this I feel a bit more grounded. I feel aware of the world around me, and my senses have time to be stimulated. I am forced to be aware of my surroundings, and take them in, all the while the rhythmic circling of legs and the click of the bike make for a calming backdrop.
Cycling isn’t for everyone, but a walk to work can also be refreshing. Often when I am walking I find things that make me smile, giggle, or think. I think about yesterday, reflect on today, or look out for interesting things. And whilst you see a lot on public transport, you don’t have the same feeling of being in control of your motion and body. Walking through green spaces is proven to reduce stress levels and boost your mood. In the city, nature can still be found; take the park detour on the way to work, or seek out trees and flecks of green on your walk. Walking is the form of transport that gives back; helping you to feel awake, in control, and save a couple of pounds on the bus fare.
A lunch break is also the perfect time to increase your step count. When you are having a shit day, you have all the more reason to get outside. A brisk walk enables you to stretch your legs, pound the pavement, and realise there is a world outside the office. It allows for reflection and enables you to take a step back.
In case this isn’t enough to break your rush hour routine, consider the physical health benefits of walking and cycling. Walking increases heart health, increases brain function and strengthens bones. Cycling is a great, low-impact form of exercise that also improves coordination.
Everyone can spend some time outside, and here a few things you can do to help yourself:
- Use CityMapper to find out how long your commute to work would take on foot or by bike – it is probably not as long as you think.
- Schedule a half hour lunch break into your day.
- Spread the word to your friends, and walk together.
And if, like me, you already love to do this, then you can support others:
- Sustrans are a charity that make it easier for people to walk and cycle, working directly with the community and improving cycleways.
- Walking for Health are a charity that work to keep people with health conditions moving and walking.