Whether you’re looking to save money, get fit, help the environment, or simply have more fun, commuting by your own human power rather than relying on a combustion engine is a great way to do all four of those things at the same time. Commuting on foot or by bike has been shown to decrease stress and anxiety, improve concentration, lower risk of early death (woohoo!), and even spread the message of environmentally-friendly commuting styles around the office. That’s right: You riding to work could lead to the entire office starting a dedicated bike-pool.
What’s more, the best part is that you’ll get to the office feeling more refreshed and ready to start your day with the happiness that comes from spending time in nature and moving your body. So go ahead, get after it with these modes of human-powered transportation.
Ye Olde Classic: Walking
Walking for even 20 minutes in nature can have major health benefits for you and can even make you a more creative problem solver at work.
While you may not live 20 minutes from the office, most people can find a spot to park en route and finish with a walk, saving at least a few miles of driving in the process. And here’s your crazy stat of the day: skipping just three miles of driving per day adds up to over 1,000 miles yearly!
Of course, you’ll want a comfortable backpack for your walk, especially if you’re often lugging tons of documents home with you. Look for a backpack with a breathable back panel to avoid the dreaded back sweat on warmer days, and with plenty of room to keep all of your gear organized whether you’re walking to the office or heading out for a long hike on the weekend.
Pro tip: Your shoes matter. Walking shoes might not seem as important as having the right footwear for running, but if you’re walking briskly and putting in your 10,000 steps, you’re going to want a shoe that’s comfortable and provides the support you need. Head to an outdoor apparel or running store to get fit for a shoe that will meet your walking needs.
Ye Olde Classic (Just a Little Bit Faster): Running
The next step up from a walking commute requires a bit more dedication: run-commuting.
It’s growing in popularity around the world as more and more companies realize that healthy, fit employees are happier employees, and showing up sweaty for your day is no longer frowned upon, as long as you’re not conducting serious Zoom conferences in a shirt that’s still dripping with sweat. Keep your work supplies stashed in a pack that fits tight to your body and doesn’t bounce, and try to leave as much as you can at the office to avoid running weighted down. Leaving a couple of clothing changes at the office to wear throughout the week is an easy way to avoid needing to tote a full new outfit every day. Basics like shoes, pants, and a suit jacket can easily be reworn. (You can drive in one day a week to change out your in-office stash if needed.)
Pro tip: BYOW(ipes). A wipe that cleans and deodorizes makes it possible to do a relatively subtle clean-up before going into the store or office, especially if you’ve gotten a little sweatier than you expected. Spring weather is notoriously unpredictable for choosing the right clothing. Being able to excuse yourself to the restroom and quickly wipe your face, pits, and nether regions is an easy way to refresh before continuing with the day.
The Two-Wheeled Wonder: Cycling
The bike commute is classic for a reason: You can cover more ground, making 10 miles much more manageable since that can easily be done in under an hour, you can ride with a big backpack with all of your work stuff plus a change of clothes, and you’re much less likely to get completely soaked with sweat on your journey—whether it’s to work, to a date, or to meet a few friends for an outdoor brunch.
If you’re using pedal power to get to work, make sure that your backpack has a good strap in the front across your chest so it doesn’t wobble from side to side as you pedal. Keep your bike maintained the same way you would a very expensive, very nice car: Give it a quick wipe down if it gets wet, regularly pump up your tires, and make sure that your chain is lubed and not squeaking with every pedal stroke. A yearly tuneup at your local bike shop can save you a lot of grief in the long run!
Pro tip: Invest in front and rear bike lights for optimal visibility. Because springtime weather can go from sunny skies to storm clouds in minutes, being seen in any weather at any time of day is critical. (A rain cover for your backpack is also helpful, in addition to a packable raincoat!)
The Miscellaneous Gang: Skating, Blading, Scootering, ‘Boarding
For 90’s kids all across the country—plus pretty much anyone else who likes fun—the return of roller skates and rollerblades to our collective commuter lineup has been a great boon.
But blades and skates aren’t the only retro human-powered commuter tool making a comeback. Scooters have been proudly adopted by millennial office culture as a way to speed up a walking commute while getting some much-needed TAFB (ahem, Time Away From Bluelight). And whether you’re skating, scootering, skateboarding or rollerblading, these can be a great way to add active transport to your life in a fun way that reduces stress while simultaneously helping the environment.
From a gear standpoint, go hands free and stick with the nineties trend by opting for a waistpack. Yes, the skates combined with a fanny pack may make you feel like a time traveler (Sony Walkman not included) but honestly? They’re convenient for stashing your essentials, not to mention downright groovy.
When all’s said and done, you may not be able to completely cancel your motorized commute. But even resolving to shift to a couple days out of the week can make a world of difference. Your body, your brain, and your unused commuter bag that’s been stored in the closet all winter will thank you.
Written by Molly Hurford for Matcha in partnership with Gregory Mountain Products.