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If you’re thinking of getting back in the saddle and pedalling to work, you won’t regret it.
Commuting by bicycle is one of the most rewarding things you can do in your day. Not just because of the health benefits, not just because it’s cheaper, not just because it can even be faster than other modes of transport in some instances – it’s because cycling to work can give you a feeling of accomplishment and mental clarity that no other form of commute can.
And if you don’t believe me, keep reading…
Cycling to Work Benefits
There are plenty of advantages of making cycling to and from work part of your daily. Even if it’s just a ten-minute ride, for instance, doing it often enough can only benefit your physical and mental health.
But in truth, there’s a load of benefits to gain from cycle to work; not just regarding your own wellbeing.
Cycling to Work: Health Benefits
1. Sharpen the Brain
Cycling boosts the brain’s white matter – i.e. its transmission of information between different parts of your body.
Indeed, a study in the Netherlands published in 2015 found that brain scans of subjects assigned to their program of pedalling a stationary bike for six months showed a great increase in the strength of white matter fibre tracts, both in their healthy and schizophrenic patients.
2. Banish that Stress and Anxiety
If cycling is good for anything, it’s shutting off from the pressures of day-to-day life even for a small amount of time.
It can be so beneficial to spend more time exercising outdoors and away from the screens that too many of us glue ourselves to. Plus, when we cycle, we release positive hormones like dopamine and endorphins – a healthy mind is a healthy body, after all.
If you’re stuck in an office all-day, then hopping on your bicycle to work is a great way to cut the shackles and really feel free.
No other mode of transport provides you with such a clear feel of your environment – you’re not in a metal box stuck in traffic, you’re feeling the contours of the street, hearing every sound and you can adapt your route as you see fit.
4. Physical Health
Regular aerobic exercise like cycling is a fantastic way of reducing the risk of health problems like heart disease and cancer.
Plus, its strengthens your muscles and boosts your endurance levels, so by the time you get to work, you’ll have more energy left in the tank.
5. Improved Sexual Health
Yes, really. In 2017, for instance, a study in America included almost 4,000 male, 63 of whom were cyclists who didn’t swim or run and the other 37 per cent vice-versa. They answered several questionnaires, such as on their sexual health.
Results found that cyclists have no worse erectile function than non-cyclists, a higher Sexual Health Inventory for Men score (20.1 vs 18.9), while similar results were found in the same survey comprising more than 2,500 female athletes.
6. Lower Risk of Contracting Illnesses
As government briefings seem to be constantly reminding us, indoor spaces (like on buses, trams or trains) are more prone to coronavirus spreading than in the outdoors.
So, until the pandemic subsides, cycling to work will make you less susceptible to a virus, given the greater circulation of air outdoors, and the fewer people you will come into close contact with.
7. You’ll Live Longer
In 2017, a BMJ study found that those cycling to work reduce their risk of dying from all causes by an enormous 41 per cent.
Which, assuming you want to live longer, can only be a huge positive, right?
8. Stronger Immune System
As well as getting fitted and living longer, cycling to work will fill you up with a healthy dose of vitamin D.
This strengthens not only your brain and your bones, but also your immune system, offering stronger protection against various diseases and illnesses.
Cycling to Work: Weight Loss
9. Burn Those Calories…
Harvard Medical School has found that a cyclist weighing 125 pounds, cycling consistently between 12 and 13.9 miles an hour, for half an hour, will shed roughly 240 calories.
A cyclist weighing 185 pounds would burn 355 calories at that same rate. You don’t have to go to any extremes to lose a bit of weight from cycling; little and often, such as cycles to and from work each day, will suffice. Check out this calories calculator for more info.
Cycling to Work: Helps You Save…
No more losing a few pounds here and there on public transport. No more re-fuelling the car at the petrol station quite so often.
Even if you need to kit yourself out with decent cycling gear at first, or when deciding what to wear when cycling to work, over time you’ll still be on course for a huge saving over a longer period of time. Indeed, Cyclescheme estimates you’ll save roughly £3,000 in a year if you cycle to work every day.
11. Gym Memberships
Similarly, outdoors exercise will always trump indoors, so regular rides to and form work could render a gym membeship unnecessary.
Will you really need it if you’re feeling much more fulfilled from all of that exercise in the fresh air? Probably not – this, in turn, will mean more money saved.
Avoid the congested rush-hour queues by cycling to work, too. For instance, in Central London, an average 6.5km travel takes 90 minutes on foot, 40 minutes in a car, 430 minutes on the tube and 22 minutes on a bike.
So, not only will you afford yourself more time to get ready in the morning and relax in the evening, you’ll also probably get to work in a less annoyed mood than if you’re scampering about for the tube or stuck in a stationary car.
What is Cycling Good For?
There’s no pollution involved with cycling – it’s a form of ‘green exercise’ and fossil fuels are kept to a minimum, unlike most other modes of transport.
Plus, bikes conserve roadway and residential space, which in turn lends itself to less concern and more plants in urbanised areas.
With more energy comes more productivity when you get to work, rather than flagging after a miserable car or busy journey, for example.
Indeed, neuroscientist Brian Christie says that exercising can double or triple the production of neurons in your brain, meaning your brain is constantly growing as you cycle.
“I hop on my bike, go to the gym for 45 minutes, then ride the rest of the way to work,” he said.
“When I get to my desk, my brain is at peak activity for a few hours.”
15. Memory Retention
Not only that, but an active body helps the brain to remember more, for longer.
A 2013 study which analysed healthy, young men pedalling a stationary bike fairly intensely for half an hour found they fared better on memory, reasoning and planning tests after cycling, and finished the tests far quicker, than before.
Of course, you could suffer a puncture, or your chain could unravel, or some careless driver could make your life difficult.
But in the main, there is so much less to depend on with a bike than, say, your car running out of petrol, breaking down, not getting caught in traffic, or the bus or train arriving on time. After the year we’ve had, value every bit of peace of mind you can find.
If you’re less stressed, and more active, you’ll inevitably sleep better, and regular cycling makes it easier to not only fall, but stay asleep too.
Indeed, a study of more than 8,000 people from the University of Georgia found a lower level of fitness was heavily linked to both a struggle to fall asleep, followed by poor quality of sleep itself.
Why Start Cycling to Work Now?
18. The COVID Cycling Boom
Get on board with the latest craze – if any good has come out of coronavirus, it’s that it seems to have sparked more people into cycling action.
During the height of the UK’s first national lockdown in April and May, for instance, as much as 16 per cent of the population of England (8.9 million) were cycling per week. If nothing else, then, you’ll surely have safety in numbers.
19. It’s Arguably Never Been Safer
This surge in cyclists has forced the hands of authorities all over the world, too – and as a result, cycling provision just keeps improving.
All over the world, ‘pop-up’ bike lanes have been sprouting up throughout the pandemic, making you feel safer in your own personal space on the roads while you ride.
20. Cycling to Work Scheme
Even before the pandemic really struck, countries such as the Netherlands and Italy were offering people financial incentives to cycle more regularly. And in July, a new government scheme in England offered people vouchers for a £50 discount on a bike repair.
So, there’s also a fair amount of monetary advantages in cycling to work – and that’s not to mention the Cycle to Work scheme, launched in 1999 and said to save you about 42 per cent on the overall value of your bike.
21. It’s Fun
Of all the tips for cycling to work, this is the most important one. The sense of exploration, of tackling the great outdoors, of feeling the sun on your skin or the wind through your hair – cycling, put simply, is fun, liberating and thrilling.
There’s a sensation to it that driving a car, or sitting on public transport just can’t replicate – once you’ve taken the plunge, you’ll surely feel it, too.