It’s Monday, and we had our first wet drizzle of snow a few weeks ago here in Trondheim. The days are getting darker, and I am already looking forward to the solstice in December when the days start getting brighter again. Still, I don my woollen underwear and solid winter boots and walk the 45 minutes to get to work each morning.
Is there not a bus to my desired destination? Could I not afford a car or electric scooter? Sure, I could, but only recently. I’ll also let you in on a little secret, I’m a total wuss when it comes to biking in the dark, especially when the streets are covered in slush. So, I walk. And it does my body and mind a whole lot of good. If you live less than an hour’s walk from work, I strongly encourage you to give it a go!
Most people are on board with this one. By walking, I do not spend 750 NOK or $80 on a monthly bus pass Every. Single. Month. But that is not all! By using the amazing power of bipedalism to propel me to my destination five days out of seven, I also maintain a healthy heart through light, yet regular exercise. The cost I save on not racking up lifestyle ailments are pretty hard to calculate, but it adds up to significant increase in happiness and well-being, as well as more money in the bank.
Not only does it save money, I also save on stress and general well-being by not having to spend a quarter of an hour in the morning and the afternoon every single workday, stuffed in an overcrowded bus with scarce room to breathe. No thank you. I’ll take that weather.
I’m one of those people who, even though I have all the intentions in the world to exercise, still struggle to find a time for it. The only external motivators that work for me are either signing up for, and attending regular classes, or joining a dojo or other kind of martial art scheme where the day and time are pre-determined. Somehow, having a set time and a person telling me what to do is the only thing that’ll get me to block out time in my calendar and get my butt out of the door.
The other thing that works for me is to allot time and habit to daily, housebound exercise. Such as yoga every morning before work (we used to be good at that!). By walking at least 1.5 hours every weekday, I don’t feel a pressing urge to sign up for expensive training classes. Even more money saved, and even more time in the evening for me! It also removes any doubt or decision fatigue about whether or not I should get my daily walk in. I am a creature of habit, and this is my habit. It is is as simple as that.
When we first moved to this apartment, my venture into commuting by muscle power started by biking. It is easy, fast, and I had the particular luck of having downhill all the way to work. No arriving drenched in sweat in the morning, and it took me about 15 minutes!
But I had to be alert and focused on the task for that. I know many people who listen to music or podcasts when they ride their bike, but for such a short trip, I find that I cannot get properly into it while still giving the road the attention it requires.
There were also some days where, due to inherited health issues, my knees wold simply not be up for the task of pushing on the pedals, especially back uphill in the afternoon. This was when I started slowly exchanging biking with walking, even if it was still biking weather.
Since walking takes much longer than biking, I find great joy in listening to various writing and personal finance or personal improvement podcasts on my way to and from work. This has become such an joy in my daily routine that I do not even bat an eye at the snow or the rain battering down as I walk. Currently, my favourites are The Mad Fientist Podcast, Fire Drill Podcast, Choose FI, Grammar Girl and Writing Excuses.
On the off chance that I am too tired to pay attention to a podcast, I can simply walk in silence. I find that this forced “me time” twice a day is a balm on any issue that might have exhausted me at work. It both helps me arrive refreshed and ready for work, but also helps me leave work at, well, work.
Now, take this for what it is, the word of some stranger on the internet and not a medical professional. But there are numerous studies out there that documents the mental benefit of regular physical activity and time spent in nature on mental health. I know many may not be as lucky as I, but I have the option to take my commute through largely forested areas. As someone who had gotten hit by an annual round of depression usually around late winter-early spring every year since she was a teenager, I can vouch for the amazing difference that a bit of fresh air can do (and fruits/vegetables).
The problem is, of course, that as a depression starts to creep up on a person, it is exactly those small everyday choices such as eating healthy and getting out of the house every day that starts to feel like tremendous, insurmountable tasks. By integrating this modest but regular movement into my daily routine, I am creating a habit hat helps keep things like depression a little further at bay. Again, I am not saying this is a cure, especially for these who suffer from serious and heavy depressions, but for me, having faced only mild to moderate depressions, it has been a huge help.
So there you have it! A handful of reasons why you should give walking to work a try! I find it easier than biking, but that might just be me. Mr. E. certainly gave me some odd looks in the beginning when I started opting out of fast-zooming biking in favour of slow, leisurely walking at my own pace in my own thoughts.
Give it a go if you can, you might be surprised!