Turn Your Commute Into Workout


It’s not always easy to find the time to train. With other commitments such as work, family, and friends, it can be pretty tricky to find a gap in your schedule just for exercise. Luckily, we’ve got you covered, as this article will be looking at 2 great ways to turn your commute to work into an effective cardio workout. We’ll be looking at exercise options and workout types as well as practical considerations to make training a part of your daily life.

First things first, why is turning your commute into a workout a great idea?

  1. You’ll be lowering your carbon footprint, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. Your stamina will massively improve.
  3. Your heart and lungs will get much stronger, giving you a significantly reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, and various forms of cancer.
  4. Each month you’ll save money that you would have had to spend on public transport, fuel, and other vehicle-related expenses.
  5. You’ll never be late again! No more worrying about car breakdowns, traffic jams, and public transport delays.
  6. The exercise will also massively help with your attitude, outlook, and stress management, keeping you healthier and happier.

Sounds good? Thought so!

Your exercise options:

Cycling: One of the simplest forms of transport available, the trusty bicycle can help you turn large distances into easy rides. Plus, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love the feeling of whizzing along as fast as they can pedal?

Running: The oldest form of transport in the world – using your own two feet to get you from where you are now to where you need to be. This is such a great option because it’s super-cheap – you only need a pair of comfortable running shoes and you’re good to go.

Although these might be the two most popular choices, don’t let me limit your imagination. If you work in a beach-side resort down the coast, why not swim there? If you work in a mountain shack, why not ski there? Hey, you might even want to rollerblade to work! Have fun, get creative, and try not to limit yourself.

Types of workout

Depending on your training goals, you might want to tailor your commute workout. The two main forms of cardiovascular training are:

Long slow duration (LSD): Basically, running or cycling at a set pace for a given amount of time, for example, running for 60 minutes or cycling 20km. An LSD is all about consistency and endurance; your goal is to keep your heart rate and breathing under control so that you can keep on going. This usually means moving at a comfortable pace best described as 6 or 7 out of 10 (if 10 was as hard as you could possibly go).

LSD for commute: The simplest way to do this is just to run or cycle all the way to work. Obviously, the further away from work you live, the harder this will be. If you live pretty close, you can always throw in an extra loop or detour to get some extra training in.

Interval: Interval training is all about bouts of more intense exercise followed by periods of less intense exercise. The exact periods of work and rest can vary, as can the intensity of work. Some simple examples are:

  • 1 minute hard work, 30 seconds light pace rest
  • 20 seconds max effort work, 10 seconds very light pace rest

Intervals for commute: One of my all-time favorite ways to turn a commute into an interval training session is to use your surroundings as your rest and work points. So if you’re cycling through a town or city you can use buildings, roads, or even traffic lights as your work and rest markers. Alternatively, if you’re taking a more scenic route you can use trees or other natural objects.

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Practical things to consider

Traffic and safety: One obvious thing to consider is the need for personal safety during your commute. If your run or cycle to work involves dangerous roads and intersections, then you should be prepared to pause your training session in order to cross safely. It’s always better to arrive late than not to arrive!

Change of clothes: I’m guessing you won’t be cycling in a suit or business dress, so if your work requires you to wear one, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got a change of clothes ready and waiting at work. You could always carry spare clothes in a backpack, of course, but they might be a little crumpled and battered by the time you get to work.

Work showers: Nobody wants to be known around work as the “smelly guy/girl,” plus it’s hardly nice for your co-workers to have to deal with your post-workout pong all day! If you’re going to turn your commute into a training session, you’ll need to make sure that your workplace has a place for you to shower.

Food: Another practical consideration is food. If your workplace doesn’t have a canteen, you may need to bring food with you each day; this can be pretty tricky if you’re running or cycling to work (you might get away with throwing some sandwiches into a backpack, but I wouldn’t recommend trying it with that delicious soup!). In the past I have driven or taken public transport to work on Monday just so that I could bring in a whole week’s worth of food to store in the workplace fridge!

Pro tip: “Ride to work scheme”

Depending on where you live, some companies offer “ride to work” schemes that are designed to encourage their employees to cycle rather than drive. These schemes are especially popular in major cities where congestion is a problem. If you play your cards right, your company might pay for your bike, with some companies even offering an additional financial incentive.

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On your bike!

Alright, if you’ve stuck with me all the way through this article, then you should have a pretty good idea of how you can turn your commute to work into a training session. You should also have a few practical considerations to sort out to ensure that you have the best experience possible. All I can say is good luck, give it a few weeks, and aim to enjoy the process.

Have you done a commute workout yet?