Healthy travel alternatives

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Don’t let your ticket to freedom become a one-way trip to slothsville.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has pointed out that younger people tend to walk and ride their bikes less once they have their licence.

But the fact remains that if you don’t get enough exercise you’ll be less healthy than you should be. And if you find yourself cruising out of the driveway to pick up some munchies from the service station 50 metres up the road then it’s time to have a rethink.

Apart from helping you to look and feel good, leaving the car at home every now and then can give the planet a break and let everyone breathe a little easier.

In 2010 there were 4.7 million licence holders in NSW alone. If we all choose some alternatives to the car every now and then it can make a big difference. Here are the top options.

Public transport: The romantic option

Okay, we just made the romance bit up. But there are lots of advantages to public transport.

For a start, it’s almost always cheaper than taking the car and you won’t have to worry about trying to find a park. You can catch up on your reading or connect with your friends on Facebook as much as you like. If you’re over 18, you can have a quiet one with your friends without fearing the zero blood alcohol limit.

Public transport info

Go to Transport Info for public transport news and info, including timetables and an online trip planner. Call 131500 for the same service over the phone.

Walking: The exercise of champions

Low impact, free and easy to master, walking is the little black dress of exercise, the iPod of exertion. The original and the best, walking will never go out of fashion (unlike folding scooters and white lace-up roller skates).

Walking allows you burn kilojoules steadily while taking you where you need to go. You can also combine it with the romantic option (see above) for longer journeys.

Fact: A 54kg woman will burn about 190 calories in an hour of walking. That’s just a bit less than the calorie count of a small packet of potato chips. Bonus!

Walking info

You’ve probably got a handle on this walking business but if you’re after a challenge go to the NSW National Parks website for info about bushwalking across the State. They have a nifty section where you can choose what kind of walk you’re looking for – the region of NSW, distance, level of difficulty and the kind of environment you’d like to walk through (rainforests, woodlands, even swamps are listed).

Cycling: You get to wear skin-tight lycra

Other less crucial advantages include extra speed and calorie -burning power compared to walking, and general Euro-style coolness. Good bikes don’t cost a fortune and off-road and on-road cycleways are sprouting all over the place, making cycling safer and easier.

Cycling info

The Bicycles section on the Roads and Maritime Services website has stacks of info for experienced and new cyclists including tips on riding your bike safely and cycleway maps.

Exercise: The benefits

Regular exercise has heaps of benefits. Here are a few:

  • Stronger heart and cardiovascular system
  • Increased flexibility and stronger muscles
  • Stronger bones
  • Improved stamina
  • Lowered cholesterol and reduced blood pressure
  • Loss of excess body fat
  • Reduced risk of various diseases, including heart disease
  • Better mental health
  • Reduced stress levels.