Walk, run and cycle your commute to burn fat, get fitter and be happy

Cycling, running and walking to work is perfect for squeezing more exercise into busy weeks, beginning days with less stress and more energy, and saving money while avoiding rush hour traffic and cramped public transport. Here are some top tips from three people who walk, run and peddle their commutes.

Ride to work for a full workout

“Commuting by bike lets you escape the monotony of being stuck on the tube every day,” states Josh, who rides 8km (5 miles) of roads and trails to work and back every morning.

“It’s more than just a useful fitness boost. It gives me time to clear my head and have some fun before a day sat in the office.”

Josh advises: “Ride confidently (you don’t always need to use cycle lanes), carry a spare tube and pump everywhere, and learn how to lock your bike through the rear triangle and wheel (especially if you are bike commuting in the city).”

Top tips for cycling your commute

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  • If your ride has been gathering dust in the shed or garage, take it to a workshop for a tune-up (which includes oiling the gears and tightening the brakes) or a full bike fit (to improve comfort and optimise your riding position).
  • A bike helmet, bike lights and reflective and hi-viz cycling attire are essential for every season.
  • Increase your visibility to drivers by equipping your bicycle lights during daylight hours as well.
  • Factor in time for changing, showering, locking up your bike and removing any accessories like lights and panniers. Preparing your work and cycling kit the night before helps save some time!
  • Invest in technical cycling apparel to stay warm, dry and comfortable on every bike commute.
  • Never use headphones when you’re cycling and ensure that you know the local Highway Code.
  • Practise your commute route on the weekend so that you’re more confident for your first ride in rush hour traffic.

Run to work to clear your mind

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“I run my morning commute because it gives me space and fresh air to wake up and plot my day,” says city commuter and marathon racer Alice. “By the time I get to the office I’m ready to face the workload ahead of me.

“After a long day, my run back helps me shed all the stress and frustration. I can arrive home and settle down into a relaxing evening, knowing that any work planning can wait until my run the next morning.”

If you’re getting ready for a race or fun run, it’s also a great way to squeeze more miles in a busy week.

Top tips for running your commute

  • If you’re new to running, get your gait (running stride) analysed to find the best running shoes for your foot shape. This improves comfort and endurance and helps reduce the risk of injury.
  • Invest in technical running clothing to keep every commute lightweight, cool and comfortable.
  • If you’re commuting during shorter daylight hours, reflective and hi-viz running kit is essential.
  • Lighten your load by leaving smart shoes, suit jackets, spare clothes and toiletries at the office.
  • Until you’ve perfected your routine, allow extra time for stretching, showering and changing.
  • If your workplace doesn’t have shower facilities, you can always just run your commute home!

Walk to work for gentle exercise

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“If the sun is shining, you won’t find me commuting on public transport,” says James from Slendertone.

“It takes me 60 minutes to walk 5.4km (3.4 miles) from the suburbs to the city, but if I ride the cramped and congested underground for 2.5 miles of the journey, the commute can still take me 45-50 minutes.

“For the sake of 10 minutes, I’d rather save money, avoid queues, destress and start my mornings with more energy and higher metabolism.”

Clinical studies have also proven that toning with our abs belts while walking can enhance your muscle firming and strengthening results (Anderson, 2006). It also makes fitting in daily toning sessions easier.

“I’ve been toning on my morning commute, which is 10 minutes walking and 20 minutes on the tube,” says Rowly. “The advantages are obvious. You have nothing better to do except check your phone and read the paper!”

Top tips for walking your commute

  • Walk to work in comfortable flats or trainers.
  • Download playlists and podcasts in advance.
  • Pack a waterproof and warm hat just in case.

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