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World Car Free Day

18 September, 2014 | In: News, The Training Room

Do you drive? If you have a car, chances are you're pretty reliant on it. How does this sound; ditch the car for a day and discover the surprising benefits of cycling and walking.

22nd September is World Carfree Day, a global event promoting the prospect of a car-free life. All over the world, events showcase what our towns, cities and rural areas might look like if we were to live, work, shop and commute without our cars. Of course, going totally car-free is neither probable nor practical. But World Carfree Day definitely gives us a few things to think about.

What are the alternatives to driving to work?

As someone who's passionate about health and wellness, you probably already walk (or cycle) more than the average person. Why not try walking or cycling to work? What starts out as a one-day challenge could turn into a summer routine, or even a year-round change of habits.

Why go car-free?

Even if you can't ditch the motor for good, we'd encourage you to consider reducing the amount of miles you put in. This is particularly relevant for shorter, local journeys. There are so many benefits to reducing our reliance on cars:

  • A safer environment for pedestrians, cyclists and other non-car road users.
  • Urban and rural areas which feel, smell and even sound different.
  • The opportunity to take in our environment rather than rushing.
  • A more mobile, healthier society.
  • Fitter kids and teenagers.
  • A fantastic way to tackle the obesity epidemic (60% of the population will be obese by 2050 if current rates continue).

Walking to work:

  • Burns almost as many calories as running (for the equivalent distance).
  • Helps you sleep better (gentle exercise and exposure to natural light supports your circadian rhythms and reduces the stress hormone cortisol).
  • Calms the mind and encourages the release of endorphins (nature's feel-good factor).
  • Gives your body a dose of much-needed Vitamin D through sunlight (most office lighting is around 300lux, whereas the sun measures over 1000lux even on overcast days).
  • Wakes you up gradually with natural light and fresh air (helping you ease into the day).
  • Lowers blood pressure, helps maintain healthy body fat levels and boosts heart health.
  • Connects you with your environment and local community (you'll see things it's easy to miss in a car).
  • Helps you tune in to your body, feelings and senses (you have to be present when you're walking to work).
  • Gives you a sense of achievement (you've been active, burned calories, and done something positive on the way to work).
  • Helps you get more done (you can run errands around town more easily whilst walking than if you're driving from A-B).

Try two-wheels instead:

  • The average middle-aged cyclist is just as fit as someone 10 years younger.
  • A 16 mile commute (which wouldn't take long on a bike) uses around 800 calories.
  • The body's metabolic rate is raised for hours after a bike ride (meaning you'll continue to burn more calories once you get to work than if you'd driven).
  • Cycling is great for your muscle mass, heart health and cardiovascular system without the joint damage associated with running (and it's more practical for the work commute).

Hands up who's going to walk or cycle to work for World Carfree Day on 22nd September? It could be the start of a healthy new lifestyle change.

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