There is lots and lots of information about why taking up cycling is a great idea. As a means to keep fit, save the environment, protect your bank balance and more, it makes you wonder why some people don’t cycle.
The first, important benefit that cycling gets you places faster than other means of transport. At least it does in built-up areas – bicycles can easily avoid the daily traffic jams and crawls that clog our cities’ roads on a daily basis. You don’t have to wait to buy a ticket to take bicycle, or wait for it to turn up. You don’t have to change to another bicycle numerous times on your journey. You just hop on, move your legs around and enjoy the feeling until you arrive where you wanted to go. A study of the average bicycle speed in cities recorded it at 15mph, whereas cars were stuck at a sluggish 7mph. Major highways are no exception to this rule, as anyone who has lived in Atlanta or Los Angeles can tell you.
The fact that you’re doing some exercise – even if it doesn’t feel like much on flat roads – is great for your body in all kinds of ways. The average car driver sits in traffic after work every day, getting more and more stressed out, but not being able to channel the stress – they’re just sitting down, getting fatter. You, on the other hand, can feel a real physical connection with the bicycle, the pavement, the sun, the air. You’re getting your workout for free. As a result, when it’s time to sleep, cyclists find it much easier to nod off, and enjoy longer and better quality sleep than car drivers. All of this means they are in better shape the following day.
This workout means that your circulation is improved, as is the function of your heart and lungs – essential for living a healthy life. Sitting in your car, or on a bus or a train just isn’t going to do that. But that’s not the end of it – cycling exposes you to natural sunlight and Vitamin D, helping keep your complexion looking healthier. Cyclists look better than drivers – if you’ve never noticed it, start looking and you’ll see the difference.
Cycling has been shown to have more direct health benefits, too. If you’ve ever been constipated, you could have avoided it by cycling. The cycling motion helps push food through the intestines, helping it to retain water which makes it easier to pass.
Other studies have shown how cycling helps to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, influenza, colds and a number of infections. Data shows that employees who cycle to work take fewer sick days than those who drive cars.
Apart from being great for avoiding traffic jams, bicycles are also great for parking. They hardly take up any room – think of all the ugly parking lots we could get rid of if people started cycling instead of driving. And think of how much cleaner the air in our towns and cities would be, too.
Walking is great, but when compared with cycling, comes out second best – simply because walking burns the same number of calories as cycling, but doesn’t get you anywhere near as far. For journeys involving ascending a large number of steps, fair enough, walking comes out on top, but that may be the only scenario in which it does.
If you want to enjoy a long life – perhaps you’re looking forward to retirement – you’d better hop on the saddle. If you’re inactive, drive to work and don’t really do any exercise, you’re twice as likely to develop heart disease as someone who cycles to work five days a week – even if the journey is only a couple of miles.
Chances are, that if you cycle to work, you’ll be getting paid more, too. As cycling prepares you physically to deal with long, arduous days at work, when others are losing their focus and getting tired, you’re still able to perform at your best – making it likely you’ll do a better job than others and make a more positive impression, thus winning you the promotion and the raise you want.