Cupalors - 10 ideas for improving health - ©Fred Ucciani

10 ideas for improving health on your daily commute

Should your work commute be short or long, by car or public transport, it’s a small part of your routine you can harness to make the rest of your day easier and your week less daunting. A commute is a double deal, so that’s twice as much optimization, though I’m sure for most of us our needs and wants on our morning travels are not those of our evening travels, which is why I’m going to split ideas into ‘to work’ and ‘to home’.

To work

1/ Boost your mood with ‘feel good’ music – this sounds obvious, but it was a very difficult period in my life that taught me about the amazing effect of music on mind frame. Ideally you should have a few feel good lists programmed into your travel device so that you can choose according to the day ahead, a list that’s a little more your « Rocky Balboa » go-to will help you walk into a difficult early morning or meeting, and something that’s a little more ‘What a wonderful world’ will put you in a frame of mind that even the broken coffee machine won’t be able to shake. Weed out negative, sad or violent songs, if you want to start the day on the right foot.

2/ Exercise – if you can walk or cycle some (or all) of the way to work you’re getting in some precious physical activity and releasing endorphins, the hormones that make you happy. In my early twenties in Paris I didn’t have a car, and during metro strikes I would have to walk half way across the city every day to get to work, it was an hour long walk in winter. At first I absolutely hated it, and would moan to myself all the way to work, then after a few days I started not to mind and would treat it as an early leisure walk, and of course once the strikes had finished I would secretly miss the walk. If the idea seems daunting and work is really too far, maybe try getting off a few stops from work or parking your car a couple of blocks away, your body and mind will thank you.

3/Listen to inspiring podcasts or audiobooks – and obviously a traditional book works for this one as long as you have your hands free to hold it! Reading something inspiring and uplifting will have the same effect as listening to uplifting music and may also open you up to new ideas. When I’m in a rut at work, it’s often random reading or listening material that is not necessarily linked to what I’m working on that will put me on a new train of thought and help me gain perspective on my work. I am always looking for new materials or inspiration, and having a wide range reading and listening list helps me with this.

4/ Detox – One of the most simple things you can do on a commute, whatever the mode of transport, is use it to drink a daily top up of either rich detox tea or a vitamin smoothie. Get yourself a travel cup today. Easy.

5/Meditate – Ok were not talking crossed legs and hands on knees in the train, we’re talking about all of the wonderful guided meditation apps there are out there that can take you to lovely places for a few minutes, a small time out to focus, calm down, or just quieten the noise of your ‘to do’ list running circles in your mind. Obviously this should not be done while driving. I got really into meditation with the Omvana app a few years ago, I find it helps with energy levels (a twenty minute meditation feels like a long sleep), and also keeps me very positive. This is by far one of my favourite things to do before doing a little work if I’m traveling to another city for the day by train or plane.

To home

6/Learn a language – Listening to lessons on your way home is like packing a little night class in without infringing on your evening, but above all speaking a second language helps with memory and focus, so use an audio program to learn a language you’ve always wanted to speak! This will not only benefit your future travels, but according to research, may just stop you suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia later on in life. Added bonus – learning a new language may also be a way of furthering your career options.

7/Guided relaxation – This is not far from the guided meditation app, and infact you will find guided relaxations on the Omvana app and many others. A guided relaxation will help you decontract muscles you’ve been clenching since you had a run in with your boss in the afternoon. Don’t take that home with you! We tense muscles all day long without even realising, reading this article right now I bet you are clenching a muscle somewhere in your back, shoulders or jaw, just through sitting in a wrong position, a guided relaxation will help you wind down on your commute home to arrive fully ready to begin your evening.

8/Household organisation – If like me you juggle between work and home, one way to alleviate stress, free up more ‘you time’ and eat better is to organize meal plans, it’s a three in one winner! My twenty year old self would have laughed at me for doing this, but she had an extra hour in the morning to walk to work if she pleased, I do not. Use one of your commutes a week to get a healthy meal plan written down and a shopping list to go with it, this is a life changer believe me. Not only will a meal plan mean you eat healthy food (provided you write a healthy meal plan!), but it stops you from wracking your tired brain to come up with a magical meal from the empty fridge night after night. It means less unhealthy take-aways because there’s nothing in, and less after work trips to the grocery store for tonight’s ingredients – hence more you time. Can you picture the stress free evenings?

9/Care for your friendships – In our busy lives, weeks can go by without catching up with our friends, yet research highlighted by the Washington Post shows that we need our friends, and that strong relationships could be responsible for better health and longer life. A commute is a perfect time to make a hands free call, or send a text message or an email from a train, try dedicating a couple of your commutes per week to different friends, making both you and them happy (and live longer!).

10/Quiet time – People alone at the wheel have the perfect opportunity to zone out noise in their car and enjoy a little quiet time on the way home, people on public transport may want to add noise cancelling earphones to that mix to ensure that they too can enter that bubble. Work spaces are often highly charged places and a little quiet and still time on your commute home may be a beneficial addition to your day. Whenever I try to quiet my mind and have a calm moment, once I have lowered the volume, I like to add a little gratitude to that moment, and so every day I find 5 things I am grateful for, this really helps me stay focused on the positive and enjoy the little things more, I would highly recommend it.

Let me know if you have tried and enjoyed any of these,

Bye for now,

Kirsty