Walking hiking for travel

Use your commute to exercise and lower stress

At some point, we’ve all experienced spending way too much time going somewhere like work, school, to a party or for an appointment.

I’m lucky enough not to have to commute too far very often anymore. There was a time when my travel to and from work was five hours a day. I’m going to call those the “dark years”.  I can’t even bring myself to think about how bad it was in the winter time. I had to find ways to use that time to get things done, or else I couldn’t get much done when I got home.

Use the time you spend in traffic or transit to your advantage. You can put it to good use!

Here are some tips to make your commute more tolerable

You can use your time in the car as a passenger, or as a driver when the car is stopped to exercise and reduce some stress. These also work if you take transit if you don’t get embarrassed for the tips that include some movement!

Keep fit

Seated Row
Flex your arm and back muscles like you’re doing a seated row

You can do these exercises for the entire repetition count, or if you’re driving, until the light changes.

Seated calf raises. Lift onto your toes, flex and hold for ten seconds and then lower your feet. Repeat ten times.

Steering wheel pushups. Put your hands on “10 and 2” on your steering wheel. Flex your arms. Pull yourself toward the steering wheel for three seconds, and push yourself away from the wheel for three seconds. Repeat ten times.

Isometric exercises. Flex every muscle in your body. Start with your toes and flex each muscle separately for three seconds. Do this for your feet, legs, arms, neck and the top of your head.

Ab exercises. Tuck in your pelvis and flex your lower ab muscles. Next, move your rib cage slightly toward your hips and flex your upper abs. Hold for ten seconds and rest for three seconds. Repeat ten times.

Oblique muscle work. Flex your lower and upper abs and hold while you raise your right hip as high as it will go. Hold for three seconds and then lower and repeat on the left side. Repeat ten times on each side.

Reduce stress

Deep breathe. Inhale as much as you can and then exhale slowly letting out all the air in your lungs. Repeat for two minutes.

Massage your neck. Use your right hand on your left shoulder and work your fingers gently but firmly, beginning with your shoulder blade. Move up toward the neck. Repeat this motion four times and then repeat the whole massage on the right side, using your left hand.

Listen to music. Music can relax you as you drive or if you are stuck in transit.

Give yourself extra time. If you leave a little earlier to get to your destination, you will feel less stressed about the unexpected things that pop up when you’re commuting.

Visualize.  Take a moment to relax and pretend you’re somewhere you want to be. For example, on a beach. Or if you already live on a beach…let’s trade places right now!

Write. If you’re not driving, what better way to relieve some tension than writing! A blog, journal, songs or poetry are all great outlets to get your stress out.

Get ahead

Listen to podcasts. You can learn some new information about any topic, work-related or personal interest. Keep aware of your surroundings as you do.

Plan. During stops or breaks, mentally prepare for the things that are coming up in your day.

Take photos. Take photos during stops or breaks of the interesting things around you. You can find some beautiful scenery during your travels. If you’re on a train, take photos of some of the things you have with you at different angles to see if you can make them look interesting.

Evergreen Brickworks, Toronto
Evergreen Brickworks, Toronto

Commuting can be boring, but these tips can help you make the best use of your time.

What do you do to pass the time when you’re stuck?


  1. The drive is a bit under ten miles, but some days, during the school year, I get stuck in morning traffic. Choosing a classical music station on the radio helps me relax, whether I am stuck on the freeway or on surface streets.. Taking time for a run before work a couple of days a week also helps to relax before facing the commute.

  2. I love listening to podcasts when I’m on the train. These are great tips. I haven’t tried to do exercises, I may try some of these!

  3. Great post, do you have any other stress reducer posts?

  4. That was very informative. In this hectic life one must really try these easy exercises to live a healthy life.

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