Sedentary life and long hours of commuting can cause illness and wreck relationships. Your local street market is a brilliant place to start on your new active life
One of the significant changes I made when I started to become self-employed is altering my grocery shopping pattern. As a startup, I can’t afford to be too extravagant. The price of vegetables and fruits from my local street market are significantly lower. Plus, I get to do my brisk walk and have friendly chats with the local traders.
It’s easy. Here is how you begin:
1) Find your nearest local street market
There are approximately 162 markets within London. Fifty percent of them are street markets, and 68% are located within inner London (1). Many street markets are open in the weekends. You can check with your local councils where and when they take place. There are many listing websites and blogs that can provide detailed information.
2) Walk to the markets. Avoid taking the public transport
I don’t take public transport to the market. Instead, I would carry a trolley while I walk. After you get over the initial worry of looking like a trolley-pulling pensioner, the journey is actually enjoyable. Make sure you are carrying a comfortable weight, and avoid straining yourself. I don’t recommend carting heavy groceries on a bike. It’s dangerous and you are not getting much exercise out of it.
This is supposed to be an antidote to work commuting. The key is to avoid rushing and enjoy your journey. Commuting is proven to make people unhappy. Swedish researchers have discovered that a commute longer than 45 minutes for just one partner in a marriage makes the couple 40% more likely to divorce (2).
If that doesn’t convince you, read this report from Safeworkers.co.uk:
“Long hours of commuting, especially if you’re driving, is associated with high blood pressure, musculoskeletal disorders, increased anger and resentment at work, absenteeism, lateness, and an ability to concentrate and perform to the same standards as those who live in much closer proximity to the workplace. Long commutes can also increase the risk of heart attacks, flu, depression etc” (3).
“Swedish researchers have discovered that a commute longer than 45 minutes for just one partner in a marriage makes the couple 40% more likely to divorce”
3) Give yourself time, and design the routes in your head
I make a weekly visit to my local street market, which is 2.4 km away. So the round trip is 4.8 km. Sometimes I make an extra detour to the bank or the library. Ok, sometimes I stop at Waitrose. I’m not denying myself a small luxury of lovely cakes once in a while. On weekdays, I give myself 30 minutes to one hour to complete my trip.
I love maps, so I designed two or three alternative routes to my street market to avoid repetition and boredom. I think it’s good to challenge ourselves creatively on daily basis. Why not make “popping round for milk” a bit of a colourful trip. Why be boring.
4) Get intimate with your neighbourhood
We often hear complaints about the stress and the loneliness of urban living. The truth is we are never isolated in the city. Walking around in your local neighbourhood gives a sense of space. According to the London’s Retail Street Markets report (4), visiting street markets provides the people the opportunity to bond socially with the community. After a few years frequenting my local street market (and knowing the traders by names), I am no longer a stranger in my own borough. I even know my local postman’s name.
You will start to become more aware of your environment and notice positive details about it. If you feel a bit artistic, use Instagram to document your experience. I know there are gazillions of food pictures on the internet already. But if it gets you out and makes you happy, just do it.
(1) & (4) Source: (London’s Retail Street Markets – Draft Final Report). (2) Source: The Economist blog. (3) Source: Safeworkers.co.uk