Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Change Your Commuting Habits for Improved Employee Health

Depending on where you live, if you drive yourself to work, your daily commute could be up to 90 minutes each way. The average American will spend 25 minutes commuting to work according to U.S. census data. Unfortunately, this is taking its toll on your overall health in more ways than the obvious: accumulating even more minutes of sitting throughout your day.

Let’s talk about what is really happening to your health as you are driving yourself to and from work each day, and what you can do about minimizing those negative effects by replacing them with positive habits you can incorporate into your commute.

Traffic Jams, Weather Delays, Road Rage = Another Opportunity for Stress!

ThinkstockPhotos-178516386.jpgThere are things that happen on our commute that we did not plan on that put us behind on our already hectic schedules or just annoy us. It is easy to become anxious when these things happen and start or end the day with added stress from the experience. The truth is these things are typically 100% out of your control, so this should not be a source of stress.

Next time you find yourself in this situation, simply take a few deep breaths. According to the American Institute of Stress, to decrease the damaging effects of stress on the body you should take focused and intentional deep breaths. This will allow you to truly relax by decreasing your heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure, thus decreasing your overall response to the added stress.

Commuting Can Be a Pain…Seriously

When you have to sit for long periods of time, make sure you are sitting correctly. This comes back to ergonomics, but setting up your car to meet your needs has many elements to consider. The USDA APHIS Ergonomics Program does an excellent job of teaching you how to set up your driver’s seat properly as well as the risks associated with not setting it up correctly: increasing your risks for low back pain, neck strains, and many other common musculoskeletal injuries. Take a few minutes to properly adjust your vehicle to prevent these issues from occurring.

The Link Between Longer Commutes and Increased Prevalence of Obesity, High Blood Pressure, and Low Cardiovascular Fitness

Research from Washington University has shown a high correlation between longer commutes and increased prevalence of various health conditions such as metabolic syndrome, obesity, and high blood pressure. An obvious way to combat this is to ride your bike or walk to work, but realistically this is not always possible for many adults. Sometimes the commute is simply too long, or the city you are working in does not have the infrastructure to support this.

When commuting by foot or bike is not possible, it is even more important to find time for physical activity at some point during the day to help minimize these risks. One way that you can do this is to use a fitness facility on your way to or from work. This is a great option because not only will it allow you to access activity, but it will break up the time you are spending in your vehicle. 

Take This as an Opportunity to Make Time for Your Well-Being

If you have the option of using public transportation, your options here can be endless! One study has shown that people who use active travel (walking, public transportation, and biking) compared to those who drive themselves to work report higher levels of positive well-being. If active travel is not an option, maybe you enjoy listening to music, audiobooks, podcasts, or just being alone with your thoughts. The commute can provide a great opportunity to do these things. Many take this time as an opportunity to learn more in an area that they are interested in but just can’t seem to find the time to do, or to simply just unwind from their hectic schedules.

Although the commute is likely not your favorite part of your day, it does not have to completely derail your employee health if you take these things into consideration. Take a few minutes this week and reflect on your commute and think about where you may be able to incorporate some of these healthy habits to improve upon and maintain your good health.

Consider how you can provide better wellness and fitness services to your employee, click below for ideas from NIFS.

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Topics: biking walking stress health staying active sitting high blood pressure

Pain at the Pump Fuels a Boost in Employee Health

This blog was written by Anna Hiple. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

walking, biking, gas pricesAs gas prices creep higher and you’re forced to dig deeper into your pocketbook, it can certainly be difficult to look at the bright side of what seems to be that inevitable price spike as the weather warms up. However, the next time you grudgingly fill up your tank, ponder the health benefits that are to be had as a result of higher prices.

First, there’s the most obvious: people will bike and walk more (and use public transportation), which certainly makes sense in a country where 50 percent of commuters are traveling five miles or less to the office. Traveling by bicycle or on foot provides moderate-intensity exercise that is generally safe for individuals of all ages and fitness abilities, and can provide a quality workout for someone who is pressed for time by the demands of work and family.

With fewer vehicles on the road comes less pollution, beneficial to both the environment and health. Less traffic fatalities also result, due not only to the decreased amount of cars but the simple fact that motorists drive more slowly to conserve gas. Speaking of saving gas, instead of making circles around the parking lot to snag the closest spot, now is the perfect opportunity to heed that oft-heard tip of parking in the farthest space from your destination!

The effects can trickle down to lifestyle choices as well. With less spending money to be had, families will be more likely to cook healthier meals at home as opposed to eating out. Outings for the family or for couples can include activities like biking or hiking instead of trips to the movies or a restaurant.

And while you're pinching pennies, don't forget that your corporate wellness center provides an affordable alternative to an expensive gym membership. This season, make that pain at the pump work in your favor toward a healthier body!

Topics: exercise at work exercise at home exercise walking corporate fitness centers biking