Get on your bike to keep fit, warm – and save money
Cycling is a fantastic form of low-impact exercise and also a great way to save money on your daily commute while reducing your personal carbon emissions. Urban Body physiotherapist Sanford Miller explains the numerous benefits of cycling to your health as well as your pocket:
Very few sports can match the sense of freedom and excitement that cycling can deliver while you’re pedalling away with the scenery flying past. Recent research has found that people who ride self-propelled or indeed e-bikes benefit greatly in both mood and anxiety, boosting overall mental health. It also indicated that cycling improves our higher executive function, including decision making and reaction times. Other research suggests that a five per cent improvement in cardio-respiratory ﬁtness from cycling led to an improvement of up to 15 per cent in mental tests.
Moderate exercise makes immune cells more active, so they’re ready to ﬁght off infection. People who cycle for 30 minutes, ﬁve-days-a-week take about half as many sick days as couch potatoes. King’s College London compared more than 2,400 identical twins and found those who did the equivalent of just three 45-minute rides a week were nine years ‘biologically younger’ even after discounting other inﬂuences, such as body mass index (BMI).
An enormous proportion of musculoskeletal pain (related to muscles, soft tissues or joints) occurs when we are not strong enough to deal with the loads and stresses of daily life. Having stronger tissues and tendons helps to make them more resilient and tolerant, meaning you are reducing your risk of suffering general aches and pains often experienced with everyday movement.
Cycling develops our fitness level in several ways, but most importantly it improves the efficiency of your heart and lung function as well as increasing your metabolic rate. The long-term benefit of this is not only that you’ll become a better cyclist but you’ll benefit in all walks of life by reducing feelings of fatigue and lethargy with the added bonus of improving your concentration.
Cycling is for everyone. Regardless of age, gender or experience there’s a level and class to suit. And regardless of your fitness level, you’re in it together. You become part of a team and it’s a great way to meet people and make friends while improving your posture, co-ordination and strengthen bones. It’s not even as weather dependent as you think. Who cares if it’s raining outside? Pop down to the gym and use a static bike and maybe even join a spin class. If you’re unaffected by the climate it’s easy to set a schedule and stick to it.
Save the planet
Twenty bicycles can be parked in the same space as one car. It takes around five per cent of the materials and energy used to make a car to build a bike – and a bike produces zero pollution. Bikes are efﬁcient, too. You travel around three times as fast as walking for the same amount of energy and, taking into account the ‘fuel’ you put in your ‘engine’, you do the equivalent of 2,924 miles to the gallon.