Any time I’m helping a patient increase physical activity, we always talk about active commuting. Heading to work or class for many folks means hopping in a bus or car. And while I’m all for carpooling and public transportation, there’s a problem: most Americans already sit way more than we need to, and it’s pretty clear that sitting isn’t doing us any favors health wise. 
UNC-Chapel Hill researchers have found that active commuting via biking or walking has major health benefits.  Active commuting also saves money, saves the environment, and, for some, it can save time.  Plus, it’s a mental boost.  It’s pretty hard not to bike to work or class without a smile on your face.
For those of you who are intrigued, here are my top five tips for active commuting:
- If you’re biking on campus, you’ll need to take two minutes to register your bike with public safety. Hint: your bike’s serial number is usually on the underside of the frame. Also, check out this public safety website full of recommendations for safer biking.
- Think you can’t actively commute because you wear gear that might seem not so conducive to comfort or propriety (i.e. skirts, heels, slacks)? Whatever. After a trip to Amsterdam a few years ago, where I saw people biking in just about anything, I decided it can be done. Roll up your pant leg or use a rubber band. A tip for skirt wearers: lean the bike on its side as you mount it or wear shorts underneath. Easy
- How about sweat? You have a few options. Head to a UNC gym for a shower. Or, since all Chapel Hill buses have super easy bike racks, you could load up your bike and bus it in and then bike home. You could also simply carry a towel or wet wipes and just wipe down.
- Don’t have a bike? The Recyclery bike shop in Chapel Hill teaches bicycle repair and maintenance and allows community members to earn a free bike. Pretty cool. Back Alley Bikes or The Bicycle Chain are both local shops that sell bikes. Or try Freecycle or Craigslist for free or cheap rides.
- Finally, if you do decide to bike, don’t even think about going helmet-free. You study or work at UNC-Chapel Hill for a reason: you’re smart. Protect your brains, people! Again, check out Freecycle or Craigslist for cheaper options if cost is an issue. And just for fun, drool over this futuristic invisible helmet and these cool bike lights.
Have I convinced you? Pore over this awesome active commuting toolkit, which pretty much addresses any questions or concerns you might have. Signing up for the Cyclicious listserv is also a great way to keep up with local bike events. Also, walking and biking aren’t the only ways to actively commute. Skateboarding or Razor scootering would get the job done, too.
What’s your favorite way to actively commute? Have you noticed any benefits or changes?
 Mayo Clinic, “What are the risks of sitting too much?”: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sitting/AN02082
 UNC study: People who bike or walk to work are more fit, less fat than drivers: http://uncnews.unc.edu/content/view/2695/71/
 Active Commuting Toolkit: http://www.gundersenhealth.org/upload/docs/Services/CommunityPreventive/Active%20Commuting%20Toolkit.pdf
 Physical Activity in New York City: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/survey/survey-2009commuting.pdf