Millions of Americans make a daily drive to work, but not all commutes are created equal.
According to a 2015 review (the latest available) by the U.S. Census Bureau, about 86% of American workers commute to work by car. But not everyone is driving a long distance. If you find yourself driving five minutes to work each morning out of habit, maybe it’s time to rethink your commute.
A five-minute drive translates into a manageable walk. And taking that walk not only saves you the stress of driving but also comes with big health – and potentially financial – benefits.
The American Heart Association reports a short daily walk can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke; improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels; improve your mental state; and even reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer.
And the London School of Economics and Political Science found a brisk walk is the best exercise for keeping weight down.
Is your daily drive walkable?
Google maps offers an easy way to check whether you should be putting the pedal to the metal or shoe leather to the sidewalk. Enter your home and work address and click the walk icon for an estimated walk time conversion.
For example, a five-minute drive from Denver’s urban Capitol Hill neighborhood to a downtown office tower converts to a 21-minute walk (including a stroll across the Colorado Capitol gardens). Even that short 20-minute walk offers significant health benefits, according to the Harvard Medical School.
Need another reason? How about cash. Take that five-minute Denver drive and add parking. Parking downtown runs about $170-$190 a month. Even at the low end, that’s $2,040 a year. Direct those monthly parking fees into a retirement account for 20 years, invested at a hypothetical 5% annual rate of growth, and that’s $67,454, as calculated by a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission program.
More fit, more relaxed, and more money sounds pretty good. It’s worth thinking about adding a little sole to your daily routine.
But you live a 10-minute drive away? That converts to a 20-minute bike ride, and biking, too, comes with health benefits (just be sure to wear a helmet).
Have you found an unconventional way of squeezing in a bit of exercise? Share your tips.