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3 Simple Strategies to Experience Car-Free Living Benefits, Without Selling Your Car

3 Simple Strategies to Experience Car-Free Living Benefits, Without Selling Your Car

There are obvious car-free living benefits that you hear about all the time: reduced carbon footprint, reduced costs, or perhaps, not having to drive in traffic. You smile and nod your head, and then return to the reality of the modern world where you work across town, shop at discount warehouse club, and/or have kids to cart to school and practice.

What if I told you those were immaterial benefits? There are lots of ways to be eco-friendly, save money, and you can avoid traffic by adjusting your schedule or using public transport.

Car-free living benefits - decluttered

    The real benefits of living car-free are a less cluttered home, reduced stress, increased physical activity, and more family time.

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    That’s a bit more enticing, isn’t it?

    Now, what if I told you that you don’t need to sell away your car to experience these benefits? We started realizing the benefits of car-free living long before we sold our cars and moved from Charlotte, North Carolina to Sydney, Australia.

    Our small family of three moved to Sydney in December 2014, and we have yet to purchase a car. True, we live in a city with pretty decent public transport, and a growing network of protected bicycle lanes, but we also began the journey to car-free living back in the home. It was actually on a recent visit that we saw the massive improvements in our quality of life, thanks to car-free living.

    We spent loads of time during our visit in the car, bought more than we could fit in six giant suitcases, endured a few stressful traffic jams, and put on a few extra pounds. (For full disclosure, it was Thanksgiving.)

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    Through this experience it became obvious to us that living car-free regulates our behavior so that we purchase only the essentials, casually enjoy our commutes, and exercise daily. Upon reflection we discovered that this made us happier, calmer, and healthier, and the best part is we were able to see how this started long before we sold the car. All it requires is a shift in priorities to favor wellbeing over mindless efficiency.

    The 3 Simple Strategies to Experience the Car-Free Living Benefits, Without Selling Your Car:

    Car-free living benefits - carry

      Buy only what you can carry.

      You know those half-price granola bars that tasted like cardboard, or perhaps those Halloween pillows that were just to cute to leave on the sale rack by the register? Those are now gathering dust in a closet, pantry, or worse, the trunk of your car, and they clutter up your life. If you limit purchases to what you can carry, you force yourself to make conscious decisions instead of succumbing to the manipulation of strategic retail placement.

      To implement this strategy, park at the far edge of the parking lot, and carry everything you buy from the store entrance to your vehicle. It is simple: unload your cart at the exit, and physically carry your groceries, homewares, etc. to the car. You will surprise yourself with the mindfulness it adds to your shopping cart, as you begin to think about whether your will be able to manage carrying everything to the car when you see those strategically placed “deals.” Impulse buys will become a thing of the past.

      Car-free living benefits - Couple Carrying Bags

        For a couple blocks, take a walk.

        Walking is a great exercise in awareness, if you put away the phone, but first, you need to get out of your car. Appreciate and discover where you are in the present moment, notice each step you take, observe the sound of your breathing, and don’t let those frantic moments rescuing your toddler from darting into the street mess with your Zen (I jest). Walking provides time to be present in a way that driving doesn’t. When I walk, I am part of the world. When I drive, I am just speeding past it.

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        Walking is easy to implement into your routine, and the examples differ based on where you live. You could walk to a Sunday brunch spot, your neighbor’s house, the mall, or the gym (I see you, people fighting for the closest spot in the gym parking lot). If you do not live in a residential/suburban area, walk from store to store next time you go to shop at 3 stores on 3 corners of the same intersection.

        We used to walk from Trader Joes across the street to Target and back. Not only is this a nice way to slow down and take in a bit of exercise, but it also leverages our first strategy of buying what you can carry. Boom! Reduced clutter, reduced stress from mindful walking, and a bit of exercise to boot.

        Car-free living benefits - Living EZ

          For a bit of a hike, go by bike

          Biking is terrific cardiovascular exercise, plus it extends your range and carrying capacity over walking. When we had cars, we worked up to biking for all trips less than 3 to 5 miles, unless it was raining.

          We love commuting, running errands, and traveling by bike, but it can be daunting for a novice. The first step to a bike trip is connecting with your local cycling community to learn the safest routes. This is often as simple as a Google search, and local bike shops are also great source of information. We had a lot of success connecting with local cyclists through online forums, which is what we did before moving to Sydney, and they are a wealth of information on safe routes and casual (read as Spandex-free) group rides.

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          Next Steps

          These days, vehicle-independence is not just for tree-huggers and hipsters. It’s for everyone willing to slow down and reap the rewards, regardless of where you live. Car-free living unlocks a variety of benefits from improved health to reduced clutter in the home. They are all in reach, as soon as you make a conscious decision to step away from the car – even if it’s just for a moment.

          Photo Credit: Groceries Bike,  Couple Walking

          Featured photo credit: Living EZ via livingez.us

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          Last Updated on August 15, 2018

          7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

          7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

          Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

          Video Summary

          Why is it important to train up our core strength?

          There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

          This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

          Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

          In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

          One Exercise, multiple benefits

          There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

          By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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          When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

          Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

          In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

          What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

          What will happen when you start doing planks every day

            1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

            Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

            • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
            • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
            • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
            • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

            2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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              Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

              Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

              3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

                Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

                4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

                  Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

                  A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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                  A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

                  On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

                  5. You’ll improve overall balance

                    Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

                    6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                      Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                      7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                        Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                        How to hold a plank position

                        1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                        2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                        3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                        4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                        5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                        6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                        7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                        Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                        Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                          How to improve your plank time gradually

                          1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                          2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                          3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                          Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                          Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                          You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                          • Prolapse
                          • After prolapse surgery
                          • Pelvic pain conditions
                          • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                          • Previous childbirth
                          • Overweight

                          Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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