Whether it’s to boost your fitness, health or bank balance, or an environmental choice, taking up bicycle riding could be one of the best decisions you ever make. Sitting in traffic every day on your way to and from work has never been anyone’s idea of a good time. It turns out that it’s not very good for your health either. On the other hand, we all know that regular physical activity is good for our health. The trouble is finding the time to work out in our increasingly sedentary digital world. A simple solution to this is to cycle to work.
Commuting by bike is like having access to a free gym on wheels, so you can work out instead of sitting in traffic getting fat and frustrated. As well improving your physical fitness, regular cycling offers many long-term health and well-being benefits. Recent research, including a large study published in the British Medical Journal, has shown that commuting to work by bike offers significant health improvements.
Improvements to the health of the entire body include increased bone density, improved cardiovascular fitness, a reduced risk of developing heart disease, reduced risk of diabetes and reduced risk of some cancers. Commuting by bike increases fitness and lowers your resting metabolic rate. This means you’re burning more calories during the day, which is important for managing weight. Cyclists also have significantly lower stress levels than those who drive. According to Dr Patricia Weibel, who has conducted a large scale study of working cyclists, “commuting to work by bike can reduce the blood pressure, anxiety and other mental health symptoms of long-term commuters.” The health benefits of cycling extend well beyond the benefits you get when you ride to work.
This is why many organisations now have programmes encouraging staff to cycle to work to help reduce their carbon footprint, improve health and boost fitness levels. In fact, last year a study by Dental Health showed that there were measurable improvements in patients’ dental health after they started cycling to work, compared to those who remained at home. The difference was particularly noticeable for people who commuted every day and had a low level of fitness. This means it’s more than just a quick trip. Those who are cycling to work every day have a much greater chance of being more physically active. Cyclists tend to burn more calories during the commute and, after a few weeks, start to take on more physical exercise overall.
Not only does riding your bike to work provide a range of health benefits, but regular cycling can be a cheap form of exercise, so even if your cycle commute is just 5km, your trips will still cost you less than two days of gym membership. There’s no doubt that cycling to work is one of the best things you can do to make your long-term health a priority. It’s even possible to fit in some extra exercise while you’re at it. By squeezing in a workout at the start of your commute or just before work, you could make your fitness and health goal the start of a healthier lifestyle rather than an inevitable part of your routine. You can spend the early morning cycling for the best of both worlds.
There’s a lot of great info and advice about how to cut your carbon footprint and reduce your impact on the environment on the Internet. But the long and short of it is this: if you live in the UK, cycling to work is one of the best things you can do for your health and the environment. Research has shown that a modest increase in cycling to work is one of the most effective means of cutting CO2 emissions in the UK, and an especially good way of avoiding road congestion. And it’s cheaper than living at home Many people feel that commuting by car or public transport is a privilege reserved for those with spare cash. But the cost of commuting to work by car, rail or coach is around £2,500 a year, not including petrol and time. Or it’s nearly £6,000 for a typical home.
There is no doubt that cycling is the most pleasant and easiest form of transport, but your route to work is far from being set in stone. You can always up your cycling game by adding in some super quick trips, and stopping to walk for a bit of fresh air or to stretch your legs. The great thing about cycling is that you can cover a lot of ground quickly, and by doing so you’re essentially getting around town for free. Also, by carrying a few changes of clothes in a spare bike lock, you can always leave the car at home in your city and head out to your local city trails, and you’ll arrive looking and smelling a million dollars.
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