National Bike Week: The Biggest Benefits of Riding a Bike

Written by ID Medical

12/06/2020

The 6th – 14th June marks National Bike Week; raising the benefits of this fun physical activity and how it can form part of a healthy lifestyle. So, to help you make the most of it, we want to share the top five benefits of riding a bike & why you should start cycling to work!

The Benefits of Riding a Bike to Work

Research has consistently shown that people who are less physically active are more likely to develop serious health problems such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes; reducing their life expediencies and seriously damaging their quality of life.

The problem is, that whilst cycling is of course an easy activity to enjoy, our modern lives have become more demanding and many people find prioritising time exercise an extremely difficult task. So, our answer is to combine your daily exercise with the commute to work, as there can be some fantastic benefits…

Benefits of Riding a Bike to Work

1. Riding a bike boosts your brain power

Exercise can improve your brain functions and protect your memory and thinking skills. Firstly, physical activity increases your heart rate which promotes better blood flow and oxygen to your brain.

Secondly, it stimulates the production of hormones that can enhance the growth of brain cells. Thirdly, exercise has been shown to reduce changes in the brain that can cause mental health diseases such as Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.

Research has revealed that with just a 5% increase in your cardio-respiratory fitness from cycling can lead to an improvement of up to 15% in intelligence tests. Reason being is that cycling helps build new brain cells in the hippocampus – the region responsible for memory, which deteriorates from the age of 30. As Professor Arthur Kramer claims: “[Exercise] boosts blood flow and oxygen to the brain which fires and regenerates our receptors”, in an explanation of how physical activity wards off Alzheimer’s disease.

2. Peddle power can help save the planet

Did you know that only 4% of UK commuters cycle to work? And only 11% walk? Our reliance on cars, buses and trains to commute to a place of work is always going to put pressure on the environment; but recent events have virtually re-written the rulebook on commuting.

When Covid 19 hit our shores, we all retreated inside, socially distanced and reduced our pollution levels – as a result, the planet became a better place. This includes animals reclaiming the empty streets, a reduction in harmful nitrogen dioxide levels and life returned to the once crowded canals, lakes and rivers.

By using peddle power for your commute, it means you won’t need to use fossil fuels to power your journey, and it doesn’t require any toxic batteries or oils, either – significantly reducing transportation emissions such as hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide. All of these contribute to global warming, which is a key influence behind polar melting, climate change, ocean acidification, sea levels rising and much more besides…

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3. It can help you lose weight and support a healthy lifestyle

When it comes to losing weight, it requires a simple equation – calories out must exceed calories in. So, you need to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight. On average, cycling burns 400-1000 calories an hour, depending on the intensity you ride at and your weight.

Of course, there are other factors to weight loss including the quality of your sleep, the type of diet you consume and health conditions you may be subject to. But cycling every day is a great way to contribute to a healthy lifestyle and can help boost weight loss, too.

4. It can save you both time and money

For those who haven’t considered cycling to work before, your scenario must typically follow one of the two:

  1. Sitting in the car, queuing to get into a car park and then finally trying to find a space to park. Or,
  2. Waiting at a bus stop in the cold, complaining the bus is late, paying to get on the bus, sitting on the bus whilst it takes you the scenic route, arrive near your workplace and walk.

Alternatively, you could invest in a bicycle, get your morning exercise in, whizz past traffic, lock your bike, arrive into work – and not to mention, it’s all free of charge.

5. A boost in your mental wellbeing

A study by YMCA revealed that people who had a physically active lifestyle had a wellbeing score 32% higher than inactive individuals. Exercise can boost your mood in various ways, including the basic release of adrenalin and endorphins, the improved confidence from achieving a workout and increased energy levels and productivity.

When you cycle you have the opportunity to combine exercise, spend time outside, explore new views or even socialise. Spending time outside provides you with an opportunity to re-focus and increase your vitamin D levels which leads to a well-functioning body – helping to absorb calcium, prevent osteoporosis and reduce inflammation.

If you’ve decided to start cycling or you’re out of the habit of cycling, find yourself a traffic-free area to start in, such as a local park.

Remember:

  • Practice in a safe environment
  • Wear a helmet
  • Be seen and heard
  • Check your bike
  • Be alert
  • Plan your route
  • Always follow the Highway Code

If this blog post has got you thinking about self-care and prioritising your own health, why not have a read of our blog post 5 ways to practice self-care?

 

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References

Tempo Bicycles. 2020. 8 Health Benefits Of Cycling | Tempo Bicycles. [online] Available at: <http://www.tempobicycles.com/blog/cycling-health-benefits/> [Accessed 10 June 2020].

Cycling Plus Malaysia. 2020. 27 Great Benefits Of Cycling | Why Bike Riding Can Boost Your Brainpower, Fitness, Bank Balance And More (PART 1). [online] Available at: <https://cyclingplus.my/how-to/27-great-benefits-of-cycling-why-bike-riding-can-boost-your-brainpower-fitness-bank-balance> [Accessed 10 June 2020].

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