One of the most beneficial acts I ever performed for my general fitness and overall wellness was selling my car. Seriously!
I sold my car in 2011 and only recently got one again because we moved to a small town on an island. The interesting thing is that at the time I sold my car, it was just a necessity. I had no idea it would benefit me beyond eliminating the oppressive payments. Now stick with me here, this isn’t some hippie-cyclist tirade. I will explain how this actually applies to being fit and healthy, and how it can support/contribute to weight loss.
Owning a Car
Since I was 16 years old I have had access to a car. So that strange thing that happens when you have a car applied to me. By that, I mean the question “how will I get from place A to destination B” is already answered by default: I will drive. Of course! Because – car. Plus, at some points in my life, it was actually a pretty cool car with a decent stereo.
If the distance was extremely short, I would likely walk, but for any distance or duration over a few minutes, I would simply get in the car, crank the tunes, and drive.
Not Owning a Car
When you take the “I own a car” element out of the equation, you are forced to get creative. Will I walk? Will I ride my bike? Take the bus? Take the subway? Walk there and run back? Use a car share? Call a friend? An Uber? Mum?
The first great thing about many of the alternative modes of gettin’ ’round that I just listed is that they involve physically moving your body. Yes, even taking the bus or the subway involves walking, standing and balancing (using proprioception) that we don’t use when we are sitting on our butts in a car seat. Even using one of the car share programs involves walking to the parking spot where the car is kept and then walking home again after you drop the car off again.
The second great thing about these alternatives is that they are often shown to lower stress levels, raise your mood and perhaps even help you get better sleep. I published a podcast about commuting over at workplacehero.me/commute if you are interested in learning more.
Sure, you need to be more organized and plan ahead so you still arrive on time (although, I would argue that you need to do that just as much when you drive because traffic sucks) but in general, I would much rather feel the wind in my hair on my bike than be breathing the recycled and overly conditioned air inside a cramped car. I would also rather be standing and reading a book on the bus or subway rather than sitting there reading the license plates and bumper stickers of the cars in front of me. Not to mention the joy of letting someone else do the driving while you people-watch or space out.
It’s a Mindset
Now you don’t have to actually sell your car if you don’t want to but I would challenge you to at least adopt a car-less mindset and give yourself the task of choosing a different mode of transportation for at least 50% of your journeys.
I am certain that you will start to fall in love with the idea of being car-less when your step counter, activity tracker, bathroom scale, and waistline start to show the benefits of all this extra movement.