I recently read a story in the Boston Globe about a man named Rob MacDonald who commutes from Brookline to Cambridge every day. What distinguished McDonald from the countless other people who make the trek from Boston’s suburbs to its business centers is that he commutes in a kayak down the Charles River. In the winter months when the river is frozen, he switches to rollerblades.
McDonald loves his commute saying that it has gotten him in fantastic physical shape and that although it would be quicker to drive or even ride his bike that he loves being on the water. The US Census Bureau estimates that Americans spend an average of 100 hours a year commuting. For some people this commute is a source of stress as they content with crowded trains and bumper to bumper traffic but other people have found ways to put this time to good use.
Some people, like McDonald, who are lucky enough to live somewhat near their workplace, can use their commute for exercise. Jogging, biking, walking, or kayaking to and from work can help those hours to not feel like a waste and have the added bonus of producing all those feel-good endorphins right at the beginning and end of the day. One recent study even found that cities with a higher percentage of bicycle commuters had higher measures of both happiness and monetary wealth.
Other people who take public transportation are able to use their commuting time to read books or catch up on the news – activities that can normally be pushed aside in favor of work and family obligations. Just as biking to work exercises your body, reading exercises your mind and can be equally satisfying.
The majority of commuters are still, for a variety of reasons, stuck commuting in a car but even that can be time well spent. Some people carpool with coworkers which offers a valuable chance for social interaction in addition to being a more environmentally friendly choice. Even solo commuters can embrace the “alone time” with a good book-on-tape or some fun tunes to sing along to.
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