Live54218 column: Get physical with active commuting

May 10, 2013
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Melinda Morella

Commuting Family Challenge

Walk and roll to school. Pick a day the whole family can walk or bike to school. Find others in your neighborhood and walk or bike together.
Start with a test run. On a day you are off from work, take a trial walk or bike ride to your place of employment. Find the best route and time how long the commute takes.
Ease into it. You don’t have to walk or bike to work every day. Try replacing one or two inactive commutes in May with a walk or bike ride. Or consider active commuting to or from work instead of doing both. Walk or bike to work and find a carpool buddy or take public transportation home.
Go green on Saturdays. The Green Bay Metro runs for free on Saturdays. This is the perfect time to try mass transit to run your weekend errands! Visit for more information on bus routes, times and bus fares.


For some, getting out of bed in the morning is a struggle. For those individuals with children, it’s all we can do to get everyone ready, fed and out the door on time. So adding another step to the morning routine might seem a little hard to imagine. But what if you could reduce your stress, sleep better, perk up your mood, boost your energy, increase productivity and improve your chances at reducing chronic disease? And you don’t even need a gym membership! Would you consider it?

The average American driver can spend over 450 hours each year behind the wheel. That comes out to nearly 11 work weeks commuting, according to the Center for Transportation Excellence. Driving-related inactivity combined with stress contributes to a host of health problems. Active Commuting is one way that we can combat sedentary lifestyles. Traveling to and from work or school is an ideal opportunity to build up to 30 minutes of physical activity right into your daily schedule.

A great way to start the day

For families with school-aged children, active commuting to school is the perfect opportunity to build physical activity into the daily routine while spending quality time together. Children who walk or bike to school experience the benefits of improved academic achievement and concentration during the school day. For those who live too far away to reasonably walk or bike all the way to school, try driving part of the way and walking or biking the rest of the way. This reduces the frustration of fighting traffic near the school’s entrance and provides the opportunity for that built-in physical activity.

Employers and employees benefit

In today’s workforce there is ever-increasing evidence that employees who are active in their daily lives have improved physical and mental health. Regular cycling and walking to work reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, some forms of cancer and stress. Benefits for employers include decreased employer absences due to illness, increased productivity and higher staff morale. Businesses and organizations can encourage active commuting by providing safe places to park bikes, showers or changing areas for freshening up and allowing extra time in the morning for employees to get to work.

Wheels on the bus

Taking the city bus may not sound like an active way to commute. Studies, however, show that mass transit commuters walk on average 30 percent more a day and are four times more likely to achieve the recommended 10,000 steps a day than drivers. This is because public transit users also walk more to get to the bus stop and their final destination. Most city buses also provide bike racks. In addition to the physical benefits , public transportation users also save on gas money and enjoy mental health benefits including reduced stress and increased social interactions.

Built-in activity

Another way to increase physical activity through active commuting is to walk and bike to run errands. Try driving or taking the bus for a portion of the trip and walk the rest of the way to the store, supermarket or park. If you must drive all the way to your destination, park farther from the entrance. You will avoid the fight for the “best spot” and increase the amount of physical activity engineered right into your outing.

For most Americans driving has become the “default setting” for the majority of our daily trips. We are busy; having less time to do more each day. The convenience of driving helps us to accomplish more in a short amount of time, but at what cost? If we can slow down a bit and add an active commute to a portion of our trips, a small change can make a big difference!

Melinda Morella is the community engagement specialist for Live54218. She advocates that a healthy community promotes economic success and enhances overall quality of life for the residents of Brown County.

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports