Tell me one way to get around which saves you money, cuts pollution, and helps to keep you fit.

Cycling is the answer, of course, and it beats running because you save your joints from all that pounding on the tarmac. Cycling has got some prestigious sponsors too. It needs them because only 0.5% of US citizens cycle to work compared to 2% in the UK and 27% in the Netherlands. It’s time to make a change.

Just think, all the following organizations are recommending that you take up cycling now:

  • National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the UK
  • British Medical Association
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the USA
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Heart Association
  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
  • National Society for Clean Air

Here are 10 good reasons why you should be cycling instead of being stuck in a traffic jam or being a couch potato.

“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”
Plato

1. Cycling will give you healthier skin.

One of the great benefits is that once you start exercising, you are getting a better supply of oxygen to all the major organs, and that includes your skin. Your skin cells will be revitalized and your own supply of collagen will be enhanced. This means that you will be better able to protect against UV radiation, provided you do not forget your sun block.

2. Cycling helps the environment.

Cycling is the greenest form of transportation out there. It is quiet and it is, above all, cheap. You do not need to buy expensive equipment or clothing. Experts calculate that the material and energy used to manufacture a bike are about 5% compared to those needed to make a car. In addition, you are not polluting the atmosphere.

3. Cycling helps you burn off those calories.

One estimate says that a woman (weighing 135 pounds) can burn almost 500 calories in an hour, just by cycling at a speed of 14 miles an hour.  If you work reasonably close to your workplace and could cycle there in 20 minutes, you could aim to do this healthy commute just twice a week, weather permitting. Result? You could burn 3,000 calories in a month, according to Women’s Health.

4. Cycling protects your heart.

Ask any doctor about how exercise will help to protect your heart. Cardiovascular disease still remains the number one killer in the USA. Any physical activity done on a regular basis, such as half an hour a day for five days a week, is recommended by medical experts all around the globe. Cycling is one of the easiest, cheapest, and safest ways of doing this provided you wear your cycle helmet, of course!

5. Cycling protects your mental health.

With all the extra oxygen getting to the brain, neuro pathways are strengthened and renewed. This means a sharper mental focus and a protection against neurodegenerative diseases. Research studies show that biking may be a key factor in improving your mental health.  After cycling, some researchers observed a 15% increase in mental and cognitive ability.

6. Cycling helps to ward off diabetes.

If you eat lots of sugary snacks and never exercise, you could be at risk of developing diabetes which has many serious health implications. Cycling for half an hour a day could actually lower your risk of becoming a diabetic by as much as 40%. This is what researchers in Finland discovered.

7. Cycling can help arthritis.

If you suffer from arthritis and do not want to do too much walking or running, which will put a strain on your joints, cycling is ideal. When there is no impact and no weight bearing, the joints benefit greatly. Let your bike do all the hard work!

8. Cycling can help your performance at work.

Guess what? Those employees who were able to build in some physical activity, such as cycling, performed better in the workplace. They were performing better on:

  • finishing tasks and deadlines
  • had higher motivation
  • dealing with stress
  • managing interpersonal relationships

9. Cycling helps the economy.

Denmark is a very bike friendly country and there are sound economic reasons for this. First of all, the country hopes to save up to $60 million a year in health costs. People are healthier and the number of days lost because of illness is reduced.  Think of the other economic benefits:

  • Cycle lanes are much cheaper to build than highways
  • You can park 20 bikes in a space for one car.
  • Bikers have more time and freedom to shop—this helps the local economy
  • The typical American household spends about $9,000 on car maintenance and transport annually. Bike owners spend a fraction of that.

10. Cycling helps you save money.

In the recession, we are all looking for ways to save money. Transport costs are inevitably high. But most people live within cycling distance to work or school. Think of the savings on fuel, parking fees (and fines!). Bike maintenance is really cheap and the money you save could be put towards a really exciting holiday.

As we have seen, there are many benefits to taking up cycling right now. Before I forget, think of the times when you got a buzz coasting down a hill on a bike when you were a kid. You can do that again now!

Check out The Ultimate Guide to Biking and Cycling

Featured photo credit: Cycling family/Tejvan Pettinger via flickr.com

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