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Walking or biking to work can be a great way to get exercise

Jenny Hein and Brigette Langmade Polmar of SqueezeItIn.com demonstrate three exercises commuters can do while riding the Metro.
By Vicky Hallett
Thursday, October 7, 2010

My first boss in Washington managed to make me feel lazy the second I showed up for work.

That's because Marc Silver, now 58, arrived every morning fresh off a seven-mile bike ride or run down the Capital Crescent Trail. (Luckily, there were showers at the office.)

Determined not to be a slacker anymore, I started biking to work. When I moved two miles from the office, I switched to walking. When I took a new job about three miles from home, I kept walking. A free hour of fresh air and the chance to burn off some of breakfast seemed like a much better deal than riding Metro.

And that's when I realized I'd become a firm believer in the exercise commute.

Anyone who has ever stewed in a stream of bumper-to-bumper cars or languished on a Metro platform after just missing a train has thought, "I could walk faster than this." That might not always be accurate, but it may be the better way to go, considering that Washington has some of the worst traffic in the country and some of the best trails. Commuters walk, run and ride a bike to work. Some even sneak in exercises while commuting by train or bus.

Photos: Riding into work on two wheels

Relying on two feet or two wheels to get all the way to the office might not sound possible to everyone, but that could be because you haven't tried. Silver started out as a cyclist whose first jog was an experiment, a not entirely successful one. "I couldn't walk that night," he says.

But he built up endurance, and now that he works downtown at National Geographic -- a change that has kicked up the mileage slightly -- he has developed a schedule of three bike days and two run days a week. "You gradually notice what seemed long now seems less so," he says. "And I get to work knowing I've already accomplished one thing today." He has also saved the hour he would have otherwise spent going to the gym, and in our time-crunched culture, that's maybe the biggest selling point of all.

On the run

For Gerald Epstein, 53, running 13 miles to work at the American Association for the Advancement of Science every Thursday for the past two months is the only way he has managed to fit in the long midweek run that's required for his marathon-training program. It takes two hours to get from Bethesda to Metro Center, but one hour of that is time that he'd be in transit anyway. And the view is hard to beat. "I get down to the Mall and the Washington Monument, and I see the sunrise hit the Lincoln Memorial," he says.

Epstein shares the Capital Crescent Trail with scores of commuters, including attorney Brad Wine. The 40-year-old runs seven to 10 miles three days a week for exercise, but only last year did he realize that if he got this exercise while headed to work, he'd knock out two birds with one stone. "It was a real sense of accomplishment. I've lived in D.C. since 1988, and I'd never run someplace," Wine says.

Plus, Epstein says, the money he saves by skipping the bus and train pays for breakfast.


Yes, you're bound to get hungrier when you're moving under your own steam. So you have to think about snacks, in addition to water.

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