Active commuting in winter
In some countries in the northern hemisphere active commuting during winter involves negotiating deep snow and ice by skiing or ice-skating to work. Thankfully, our West Australian winters don’t call for anything near as extreme as that, with many parts of the state enjoy remarkably mild winter weather.
Despite this, as soon as winter sets in many of us give in to the temptation to use the car instead of walking, cycling or using public transport. But with a bit of preparation and a fresh outlook active commuting during these cooler months can still be an absolute pleasure.
Reasons to commute actively during winter
Here are some of the things to love about active commuting during winter:
- The cooler months makes walking or cycling more comfortable and offer a respite from the fierce WA summer sun.
- No matter how cold the morning is, once you've pulled on some appropriate clothing (see below), hopped on your bike and cycled for a few minutes, you'll warm up, feel a warm glow for hours after you've started work.
- On bright days, there's a reason to be outside in the sun, lifting mood, energy levels and beats the winter blues.
- Being outside allows you to enjoy the seasonal changes in nature and, as spring approaches,you'll be the first to spot nests being built and wildflowers popping up.
How to prepare for winter commuting
It’s worth noting a few things that will make an active winter commute a more comfortable experience:
- If you are walking, cycling or run commuting make sure you wear warm, breathable layers of clothing. Pack a spare set of outer layers so that if you get wet on the way in to work, you’ll have dry clothes to wear on the way home.
- On particularly chilly days, gloves and something to cover your ears can make things more comfortable.
- Invest in a lightweight, breathable waterproof jacket. One that folds up small in a stuff sack is ideal as it won’t take up too much space in your rucksack or cycle bags. If you are using public transport, a fold up umbrella will do the trick.
- If you are cycling, make sure your lights and reflectors are all in working order and be sure to cycle with your lights on during the darker winter months.
- Find out if your workplace has shower facilities and keep a towel and toiletries at work so that you can hop in a warm shower when you get to work.
- Speak to your manager about a flexible start time so that, if needed, you can wait out a rain shower before starting your commute.
- Have a back-up plan – if the weather turns really nasty during the day, have a plan for how you can get home. This might involve catching public transport, getting a lift from a colleague who lives near to you or catching a taxi (not such an indulgence when you think of the money you save every day by commuting actively).
Have you got any tips to share with anyone wanting to commute actively during winter? Please post them in the comments section below. TravelSmart Workplaces also has more information on the benefits of active commuting.
See you in the sun.
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