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Cycling to work is positive in so many ways. It’s free, healthy, sustainable, and we know that exercise is also great for lowering stress levels and improving mental health.
If you’re new to it, be rest assured that cycling to work does get easier over time. Soon you’ll be fitter, healthier, and your route will feel like second nature. But doing the same journey every day at the same time can, for some, become repetitive.
According to statistics there are still only around 4% of commuting trips being made by bike in the UK. While some cyclists are completely content with their own thoughts during their commute, others may want something else to entertain, stimulate or relax them.
And if this is you, we’ve gathered a list of activities to make your journey more enjoyable.
Safety while cycling to work is of course a key issue. Many of our ideas involve listening to something, but I’d STRONGLY advise against using noise-cancelling headphones as they will drastically reduce your awareness of your surroundings and potential dangers.
Open ear headphones are a great option, as is cycling with just one earbud in – leaving the road side ear free to hear for traffic.
Likewise, a bike smartphone mount is also a shrewd investment, so that you can quickly change songs or accept calls while pedalling, without fiddling around and taking your eyes off the road for any longer than necessary.
Instead, I’d recommend using a pair of open ear headphones. These allow you to listen to music (or anything else), and still hear what’s going on around you. For cyclists, they are a marvel. I’d also suggest investing in a bike Smartphone mount.
And finally, we hope our ideas will open up a wonderful new world of bike commuting for you. Just take your pick, and enjoy.
1. Listen to Music
For those who do need a boredom-buster when riding to work, this has to be one of the most popular. Listening to your favourite playlist while cycling can make the time fly, and the right soundtrack can even motivate you to cycle faster.
Some studies even show that music reduces perceived exertion during exercise, so you won’t even realise that you’re putting more effort in. You may well find that with tunes playing, you arrive at work earlier than usual.
2. Listen to a Podcast
The great thing about podcasts is that there are so many of them, on every subject you could think of. Listening to something that interests you is a great way to pass the time. You could learn something new with each cycle to and from work.
TED Talks are world famous now and there are literally thousands to choose from. They can be funny, inspiring, motivating or informative.
3. Listen to an Audiobook
Even those who aren’t great readers can get immersed in a good audiobook. And if you are a great reader? Perfect. With apps like Audible and BorrowBox, there’s no shortage of choice. Losing yourself in a good story will make the time (and the distance) whizz by.
Meditating even for a short period, a few times a week, can have an incredibly positive effect on mental and physical wellbeing. Many people now are discovering mindfulness meditation, which can help to calm your mind and let go of any negative thoughts. Doing this on the move is just as effective.
Mindfulness meditation can help to generate a feeling of balance, openness and harmony with your thoughts, which may be racing as you consider the day ahead. It can even help reduce stress and depression.
There are numerous apps with hundreds of different guided meditations to choose from. My personal favourite is Buddhify, which is free. But you don’t even need an app. You can be mindful of the movement, your thoughts, your breathing, the sensations of cycling. All of this should see you arriving at work with a relaxed and positive mindset. Ready for anything.
5. Phone a Friend
There’s nothing like a good chat. With hectic schedules we don’t always find enough time to catch up with our friends or family regularly. The time it takes you to cycle to work is a perfect window of opportunity.
Whether you’re chatting about the day ahead of you, catching up on gossip or putting the world to rights, spending time to talk with a good friend is a great mood-enhancer.
6. Learn a Language
Your cycle commute to work could be a highly productive one if you use the time to study. Learning a new language can improve your memory and enhance communication skills. It can also encourage creativity and even make your brain bigger.
Imagine how much you could learn in just a few months of commuting. All that time spent on two wheels could have you speaking French, Chinese, Greek, or any language that you choose.
And learning a language is also an effective distancer from racing, work-related thoughts. Putting your focus onto something else entirely, even for a short time, offers a welcome mental break.
Singing is free, fun and liberating. Why not sing as you cycle? You don’t have to be the best singer in the world, but for those brave enough to do so, you’ll almost certainly be making those around you smile.
Singing can also reduce stress. It’s been proven to lower cortisol (the stress hormone), which can make you feel more relaxed.
And if anyone thinks you’re mad for belting out Mr. Brightside on a bike? Let them. The important thing is you’ll be having fun, and you’ll be taking all of that glorious and emboldened energy into work with you.
8. Play an Observational Game
If you just want to pass the time without thinking too much, counting things you see is an easy game to play, and surprisingly enjoyable. You could count white vans, speedbumps, people with hats or open windows.
In fact, you can count just about anything. Let your imagination go wild. Just make sure you keep your eye on the road too.
9. Count How Many People You Can Say Hello To
On the subject of counting, see how many people you can smile and say hello to as you cycle. It’s a small gesture that can make a difference to someone else’s day as well as your own.
It may sound a bit naff, but I promise you, you’ll arrive at work in a good mood if you do this. Even if you’re in a foul mood to start with, if you force yourself to be positive and friendly your mind will eventually just give in to it.
10. Make Audio Notes
So, this may not be the most exhilarating activity, but making notes while cycling to work is a constructive way of using the time. Note-taking helps you feel organised and prepared, and the underrated “list” can generate real peace of mind.
Whether you’re concentrating on a work issue or shopping items to pick up on the way home, your bike commute is an ideal time to structure your thoughts. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that exercise helps us to think more clearly.
11. Visualise Things You Want to Achieve
Ok, so I may be pushing the boat out a bit here. But as you’re taking the time to cycle to work anyway, why not try a bit of visualisation? This is the practice of using all of your senses to create a mental image of the goals you’d like to achieve.
Try also, to connect the image with the emotion of the achievement, and a sense of ‘knowing’ it will happen.
It’s that concept again of creating positivity. Think about the things you want to accomplish in the day ahead or in life in general. Many believe that visualising these things helps to attain them. And you never know, it just might work.