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10 Reasons To Take Up Cycling Now

10 Reasons To Take Up Cycling Now

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:

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  • 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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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