The joys and woes of commuting
Together, we face the joys (of which there are so few) and the woes (of which there are so many) of commuting. We change our tires, pump our gas (if we require a motorized vehicle), pay our toll, and weather the ever-changing climate (those living close to the equator are likely less concerned about icy roads or white-outs). Commuting makes us stronger. Commuting frays our nerves. Commuting, while I’ve never thought of it this way, perhaps gives us a sense of community. I mean, we’re all in this to-ing and fro-ing business together.
Personally, being stuck behind the wheel causes my higher level cognitive functioning to short-circuit. While I call myself a good driver (funny, I mistakenly, but perhaps for Freudian reasons wrote bood; a beautiful mix between good and bad), being stuck in traffic does cause me to devolve into a terrible human. A terrible human is one that yells, screams, uses the horn, and perhaps rude hand gestures…you get the picture. I’m what they call, a bit of a road rage-r. It’s not healthy, no. It is not congruent with my “oh-yes-I-love-meditation-and-do-it-regularly” posts. I blame it on demonic possession.
Regardless of its etiology, to avoid my rage-r self, I have chosen to actively commute to work. Well, perhaps I’m just lucky and wound up living close to my work location (actually, that’s what really happened). Yet, interestingly, when presented with the option to move to a bigger home, with a massive yard and opportunity for a dog, in a beautiful Calgary community, I turned it down. Actually, both my husband and I decided to say stay put. While money was somewhat a deciding factor, the commute and freedom of getting home in 17 minutes or less had great pull. In fact, I think it was the deciding factor.
Growing up in the country, I didn’t think my bumpkin self would like living in the city. Yet, the convenience of walking to get groceries, work, the dentist and close access to awesome restaurants is unbelievably appealing. It will be almost impossible to give up (and give up we must – a one bedroom condo will not suffice forever).
Okay, so I’m finally getting to the point of this post. To track my commuting distance and feel super awesome about myself, I decided to purchase a FitBit. Also, at the time of purchase, our company was in the midst of a global corporate physical activity challenge and I wanted to win (I ended up nowhere close) so the purchase of a FitBit to track activity was a must.
The FitBit is a wrist or waist-worn device that tracks your steps, acceleration, and calories burned. These devices are a heck of a lot more swanky than the cumbersome armbands research participants were required to where for my thesis – technology has seriously advanced and thank goodness for that. No one wants an irritation rash or a big honking device stuck on their upper arm buzzing throughout the night. The new swish and swanky FitBit saves your arm and your sleep.
One of my favourite features – it buzzes when you get to 10,000 steps (it can buzz at whatever increment you want) – thus giving you timely and positive feedback on your daily physical activity. The best days are when you’ve gone for a long hike and you’re encroaching on 30,000 steps. The worst days (of which I’ve had a few more than the best days) are the ones where the television has been on incessantly, leading to a mere 3,500 – 4,500 steps.
Walking 6,000, 10,000, or 24,000 steps is going to provide some form of health benefit and the more you do, the greater the health benefit. Reaching 10,000 steps per day is hard if you’re stuck behind the wheel to get to and from work. If you’re in need of some ideas on how to increase your daily step count, this article may help. Yet, it’s my belief that this little device (or any other device that provides objective, real-time feedback) will most definitely help. It keeps you honest. It allows your inner competitive side a time to shine (you can sync up with friends and family to compete against one another). And it’s not too expensive (okay, a $100 is a little much, but I promise it’s a good investment).
I now view my commuting time as a health investment. I rarely begrudge my walk, even in -20 weather. I appreciate not everyone has the opportunity to actively commute and thus amp up their FitBit steps, but perhaps there are opportunities to squeeze some active time into your day. And perhaps, having a little device on your wrist or waist will encourage the long route to the bathroom or kitchen or parking lot.