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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

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Robert Locke

Freelance writer

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How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

Keeping yourself awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted or sleep-deprived.

But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your 5 different senses and help you stay awake at work:

Sight – Visual Stimulation

The first thing you do when you wake up is opening your eyes, so your visual stimulation is very important to keeping your energy level high.

1. Maximize your exposure to light.

Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel.

Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.

2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break).

Roll your eyes up and down, side to side and diagonally. Rotate them clockwise and then counterclockwise. Squeeze them shut and then open them wide. Do this several times.

Reading and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can lead to eye fatigue.

Take regular breaks with deliberate blinking and looking out into the distance.

3. Take note of your environment.

Learn to enjoy people-watching. Observe their activities, speech, body language and interactions with others. Notice the details of building, trees and other objects around you, including their color, shape and size.

By doing this, you’re not only relaxing your eye muscles but also calming your mind.

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Hearing – Auditory Stimulation

What you hear or listen to have direct effect on your brain. This is why we feel so annoyed and sometimes angry when we hear construction noise when we’re working.

4. Engage in conversation.

Talk to a friend or colleague. Trade funny stories. Discuss your business venture, a creative idea, the latest political scandal, or any other topic that interests you.

Practice mindful listening to what you and the other person are saying. Tune into the tone, volume and content of the conversation.

Learn how to practice better listening from this guide:

Why Listen to Reply Instead of Understand Is the Key to Failure

5. Listen to upbeat music.

Try hip hop, rock or jazz to keep you alert. Instrumental, non-distracting music works best.

Sing, whistle, and hum along if you can. Plug in the earphones if you must.

Smell – Olfactory Stimulation

If you’re feeling sleepy and suddenly smell the coffee, you’ll probably feel more energetic. This is why smell is an influential stimulation.

6. Work your nose.

Aroma therapists recommend essential oils of peppermint (to boost energy), rosemary (to build awareness), eucalyptus (to increase oxygen), cedarwood  (to activate your mind), and cinnamon (to improve your reaction time).

If you don’t have essential oils on hand, you can use lotions or burning candles that provide the same scents.

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Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are also natural olfactory stimulants. Get a whiff of these citrus scents to stay awake.

Taste – Gustatory Stimulation

If you want an energetic day at work, you can’t let your tongue feeling plain and flavorless.

7. Have a good breakfast.

Start off with the most important meal of the day.

Think fresh, light and healthy: bran cereals, wholegrain breads, fruits, and yogurt.

Nix the heavy stuff like sausages, greasy eggs or pancakes.

Need some breakfasts inspirations? Check out these ideas:

20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

8. Drink lots of water.

Keep a glass or bottle of H2O near you and sip from it throughout the day. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy.

So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Not sure how much to drink? This can help you:

How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

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Think that you’ve been drinking too little water? Try these friendly reminders:

3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water

9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.

Nuts and fruits (like bananas, apples and strawberries) are sure bets. Pairings with staying power include baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip; celery sticks with peanut butter; red peppers with hummus; and plain yogurt with granola.

Avoid carb-filled, sugary snacks that make you crash and leave you feeling tired.

Here you can find some healthy snack ideas:

25 Healthy Snack Recipes To Make Your Workday More Productive

Touch – Tactile Stimulation

Last but not least, your sense of touch will make you physically feel more energetic and less stressful.

10. Splash cold water on your face.

Do this in the morning, during bathroom breaks and in the afternoon. Being exposed to cold water pushes your body to adjust and regulate its internal temperature, which in turn keeps you alert.

This works the same as you take a cold shower to increase mood and alertness. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

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11. Use acupressure.

Apply pressure to, massage, or tap on the stimulation points of your body. These include the top of your head, the back of your neck, the back of your hand (between the thumb and index finger), just below the knee and your earlobes.

Watch this video to learn about the acupressure points you can try:

12. Get moving.

Move away from your chair and stand, walk, run or climb the stairs. Feel the earth under your feet. Stretch and twist. Do jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and back bends.

And if you need to move more discreetly, wiggle your feet, bounce your knee up and down, scrunch your toes, or cross your legs.

You can also try some simple stretches and exercises at your desk:

Unlike addictive caffeine fixes, these remedies activate your senses, engage your attention, amp up your energy and prevent morning grogginess and afternoon slumps without the side effects or health risks.

Pick a few ways from this list of suggestions and practice them consistently. And when you do this consistently, you’ll soon see the positive results — a more energetic and productive you at work.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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