The ACE’s 2017 trend survey reveals that more people are choosing to live where it’s easier to walk or bike to work. An active commute doesn’t just save money on fuel and cut down on greenhouse gases; it’s a great benefit to our health! A 2015 study  shows that active commuters have lower BMIs than those who take other forms of transportation, while a 2014 study suggests that those who walk or bike to work have lower stress levels.

Besides improving your health, an active commute will help you build a base fitness level that makes your health club workouts a little less daunting. It can also give you a head start on training for a summer or fall event such as a 5K fun run or even a triathlon.

It’s obvious that getting more daily activity will improve your health and overall wellness — even before you step foot into the fitness center. Even if you have a reasonable commute you can walk or bike, turning it into a habit can be challenging, so here are a few tips that might help.

  1. Plan ahead to eliminate the time excuse.

Walking or biking to work will take longer, so you can’t keep hitting snooze. Know how long it will take you to commute to work by mapping out your route (and a few alternate routes if traffic is heavy). Time yourself a few times when you’re not in a hurry so you know what your average times are.

Maybe your excuse is that you’ll get too sweaty on the way. Eliminate this excuse by finding a way to shower at work or at the fitness center near your place of employment. Pack a change of clothes in your backpack (or leave a set at work).

  1. Don’t obsess over gear: keep it simple, comfortable, and safe.

 You’ve probably seen bicyclists dressed from head-to-toe in matching spandex gear. Don’t let a lack of matching gear or an old bike keep you from the road. Keep it simple and comfortable and make sure to wear something reflective so you stay visible to traffic.

  1. Teach yourself how to change a tire and carry a spare tube or patch kit.

 Even if you have a short commute, things can go wrong. No one wants to walk 5 miles instead of biking it! Be prepared for the most common problem — a flat tire – by packing either a replacement tube and tools or at least a patch kit.

  1. Remember that it takes time to build a new habit: don’t give up!

One or two bad or uncomfortable experiences are a normal part of the process when you’re getting used to an active commute. Don’t let setbacks discourage you from getting out there, even if it’s only one or two days a week, to start. Before long, you’ll be a seasoned walker or bicyclist eager for your morning exercise. Who knows – you might start turning your friends into active commuters, as well!