By Lauren Dlugosz, Corporate Wellness Specialist, Independent Health
Regular physical activity can help protect you from serious diseases, such as obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, diabetes and anxiety. Riding your bicycle on a regular basis is a great way to reduce your risk of health problems that are associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
Cycling is a healthy, low-impact exercise that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. Adding biking into your day will build strength, stamina, cardiovascular endurance and burn calories. It can also ease feelings of stress, depression, or anxiety. Focusing on the road while you’re cycling helps develop concentration and awareness of the present moment. This may help take your focus away from the mental chatter of your day. In addition to its many health benefits, cycling is fun, economical and even good for the environment.
Riding you bike to do errands or to get to work is one of the most time-efficient ways to combine regular exercise with your everyday routine. So, why aren’t more of us doing it? Here are some common “excuses” and the arguments against them:
- It’s not safe – Biking can be very safe, especially when you plan ahead. First, find a route. There are multiple route mapping websites that can assist you with getting to your destination safely. Look for routes with less traffic or ones that can put you onto a bike path for part of your ride. Next, be sure you are visible. If you are riding when the sun is coming up or setting, you should have reflective gear and bike lights on both the front and back of your bike. Bright clothing will make you stand out to traffic. Finally, always wear a good quality helmet. Helmets last up to seven years, as long as they haven’t been involved in a crash.
- I am not fit enough – Cycling can be done on a variety of levels. If you are new to cycling, just start slowly, giving yourself extra time to get to where you need to go. Once you are more comfortable and build some strength and endurance, your speed will increase.
- I can’t ride to work because I’ll be too sweaty – If you are going at an easy to moderate pace, you will most likely not work up a big sweat on your ride. But if you do, packing some baby wipes and spare clothing can freshen you right up for your day. There are a variety of packs that can be attached to your bike to carry anything you may need.
- Biking is too much work – For this excuse, you may just need a little change in the way you look at it. Instead of thinking “I HAVE to ride five miles to get to work” think “I GET to ride five miles to work,” which sounds like an accomplishment rather than a chore.
Remember, biking is a great way to explore your town or city and get some fresh air while doing so. Plus, you won’t have to deal with being stuck in traffic or paying for parking and gas.
Get riding today!
For information on upcoming cycle events in Western New York, visit gobikebuffalo.org and slowrollbuffalo.org. If you don’t own a bike, visit reddybikeshare.com to learn where you can find one for short-term use in Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Independent Health members can also receive exclusive discounts to bike stores and more!