Who enjoys being rammed onto a train, shoved, poked and prodded, then deposited as part of a heaving mass onto a platform, before spending hours cooped up in an office? Don't all raise your hands at once.
Nah, neither do I. As part of my commute, I have to catch between two to four trains, and maybe a couple of buses, and it's not the highlight of my day.
Thankfully, I don't have to commute too far (my previous commute was close to two hours each way) so I'm working on ways to not only avoid trains, but to get some exercise into the bargain.
It's actually a lot easier than I thought, and doesn't require me changing into training clothes.
Walk or cycle rather than using a train, bus or car
This gives me a few short(ish), chances to walk, cycle, or even run, and it's far more enjoyable, can save money, and can also save time.
Basically, any journey less than 2km I'll do either on foot or on my bike. Farther than that and it depends on the journey, but I was regularly doing 20-30km daily on my bike not that long ago (more on why I started slacking on that another time).
On my previous commute, I could avoid two trains out of three by cycling for part of the journey near my house, then walking for part of the journey in central Tokyo. I can do the same thing for part of my current commute, and do so as often as I can.
I've also tried getting off the train a stop or two earlier, although I find it's very tempting - particularly on days with crappy weather - to accidentally on purpose forget to get off... For me, it's easier to just avoid the journey altogether.
Avoid escalators and lifts
Using stairs and steps rather than using escalators or lifts has surprised me by how effective it is! I love climbing up and down the riverbanks near my house to build strength, and a few flights of stairs can be nearly as good.
Opportunistic strength training
I'm lucky in that I can get a lot of time to myself in my work, so I can use that time to lift some heavy things lying around (boxes of books, etc.) or perhaps even do a few press-ups without looking like a psychopath.
Admittedly, this has been a very recent addition to my "training", for want of a better word, so I'm not sure how effective it'll be.
I make it a rule to never sit for longer than an hour, unless I'm driving for a long time. Not only because my posture goes all to crap, but also because creeping middle-age is bringing a splendid smorgasbord of aches, pains and creaks that I don't enjoy and certainly don't want to exacerbate.
Added to this greying cocktail of decline is the fact that I've always tended to have all the suppleness of a board, so anything I can do to improve my flexibility is a good thing.
That's why I'm trying to stretch different muscles throughout the day, especially before I go to sleep and when I wake up.
How to keep track of it all
In our world of digital gizmos and their ever-expanding array of features, there's no real excuse for anyone with or without a smartphone to not keep track of their activity.
I use the Health app on my iPhone to record how much walking I do, and how many flights of stairs I climb, in any given day. I aim for at least 10,000 steps per day, and will add a walk later on in the day if I haven't hit that target by then. I'm not sure how accurate it is, but it's still something to aim for and keeps me active on a daily basis. It also doesn't require me to have my GPS going all day.
For cycling I use Strava because I've found it to be the most accurate. It's free, works very well, and only requires me to have GPS going while it's on.
I used to use a Nike watch to record my runs, but lost the little pebble thing that came with it, so didn't really record any runs I did after that. That changed when I got an iPhone, as I simply installed the Nike+ Run Club app and switched to that. I love it. It's free, easy to use, accurate, and allows me to upload everything straight into the Health app so that everything's in one place.
Keeping it up
I said that I didn't change into training clothes for any of this, but there is one exception I'll make, which is wearing running shoes rather than dress shoes while commuting. If you're worried about the looks you'll get for wearing trainers with a suit, this might not be for you.
I couldn't give a toss. My health is more important than what some strangers think about my fashion sense, so I'll either carry dress shoes with me, or leave a pair at work.
In the same way that some people swear by leaving their running clothes out before they go to bed so that they can run in the morning, I leave my running shoes ready to remind me to walk or run rather than catch the train. That's one way to keep doing it.
The main thing I've found that keeps me walking and cycling rather than taking the lazy option is the Health app on my phone. It feels good to hit in excess of 10,000 steps without taking any dedicated exercise, like going for a run.
Not only that, but I feel much better physically and mentally, and that's not something I plan to give up easily.