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Cycling is Good for You/Commuting Not So Much

August 23, 2011

I picked this up from Carlton Reid, who tweeted this article this morning. File this away in the stuff we probably didn’t need scientific studies to tell us (although I’m all in favor of them promoting the health effects of wine, chocolate, and coffee). But a recent Slate article cites a Swedish study from Umeå University that warns against the health effects of long commutes, noting obesity, physical pain, stress, and insomnia. Implicitly, it’s a decent argument for promoting car-light living—living near one’s place of work and cycling—and while I worry that the “rules” of car-light living (which I’m still trying to articulate) sometimes constitute something of a luxury for the middle class in our current economy-strapped situation, where job security is a high point of concern, the piece serves as further evidence that redirecting our relationship between work, health, and private life should become more of a priority as the economy recovers (indeed, before).

To that end, I was commenting to my daughter the other day that too many out-of-shape people seem to try to kill themselves on a short run in the late evening (all too infrequently)—after long days at work, eating poorly, being exhausted—and that exercise and health were being forced too far down the daily to-do list (and this exercise serves as a kind of indulgence for poor eating—I have no data to back this up). Points for getting out at all, I suppose, but it’s typically too little and the lone healthy aspect of the day. Walking or cycling to work, getting away from the desk at midday, moving throughout the day, finding ways to reduce the length of the commute are important methods of incorporating health and exercise more directly into daily life.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 19, 2012 1:36 pm

    Wow, exercise as an indulgence! Never thought of it that well, but that makes perfect sense. Live out of balance, then think a brisk ten minute jog will solve it all. Nope, not quite.

    I try to encourage friends and family to go by bike as often as possible. More than once I’ve heard, “But cyclocommuting will add XX minutes onto my work day.” They view it as extending the workday instead of incorporating exercise into the work day AND getting the myriad benefits of some cyling before/after a day in the office.

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