THE WORKOUT COMMUTE
I’ve decided to walk to work. Starting by sitting down on the District line, rooting my feet firmly into the carriage floor and alternately retracting my knees towards my hips and engaging my glutes.
According to Luke Worthington, an elite trainer and sports scientist, this movement replicates the sequence of muscle activation in the glute and hamstring that happens when you walk. So, if I manage to do this for 40 minutes and 14 stops from east London to the Telegraph’s offices, I’ll have walked 5.5 miles, won’t I?
Worthington isn’t convinced, but says this exercise is “great for achy lower back pain, which almost everyone seems to complain about once in a while”. Now, if only I could find a seat…
When I turned to Worthington (who describes inactivity as the root of all evil) for commuting fitness advice, his first tip was to get off one stop earlier. But given that I’m usually running late, I’m loath to make my commute last longer.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do while on the Tube or bus. Pull-ups, perhaps? “Hmm, not great for everyone else on the Tube,” says Worthington.
Standing on one leg, however, is less intrusive. “A bus or a train is essentially a vibrating platform, a bit like power plates popular in gyms,” says Worthington. “It’s a really excellent way of building proprioception control. It improves the neural feedback signals from your foot back up to the brain, telling you where your limbs are in space and training you to be more agile.”
Throw in passing my rucksack from hand to hand, or around my body, and I’ve got my core powered up, too.
But what I really want is to sit down. Many health experts, including Worthington, have described sitting as the new smoking. Still, I cannot resist the magnetism of a newly vacated seat. Taking it, I tell myself it’s an opportunity to work on my thoracic mobility. Without leaning on the back of the seat, I push one shoulder back and rotate through the rib cage as opposed to waist.
For good measure, I’ve thrown in some calf-raises; pressing through the ball of my foot and lifting my heel. The bag on my lap adds extra weight. Worthington warned me that doing these exercises wouldn’t turn me into Jessica Ennis-hill, but I would arrive at work feeling better, in body and mind.
“When we’re more mobile, particularly in the upper chest, we can breathe better, which makes us less stressed as it reduces the build-up of carbon dioxide, which sends the brain into a fight-or-flight state,” he explains.
I make a note. Next time I’m jammed into the Tube carriage at 8am, take those deep breaths.