Get Fit and Lose Weight Sustainably
Let’s face it, we all know the drill when it comes to our physical fitness – we’ve all grown up learning about the multiple health benefits of regular exercise. Sometimes, however, there’s just no getting around the fact that scheduling in an hour-long run or intensive session at the gym, especially during the weekdays, just isn’t feasible. Having a busy work or school schedule can make it difficult to devote the time and energy towards a regular exercise regime, despite our (often guilty) knowledge of its importance.
What urban dwellers are increasingly realising, however, is that there is a solution for this problem – something that not only constitutes an enjoyable method of routine exercise, but is an environmentally-friendly form of transportation in its own right, and additionally saves time and money. Enter the humble bicycle. While it has always been a handy way of getting from A to B, it’s only over the last couple of decades that cycling culture has become really dominant, with bike lanes and parks being constructed and regularly frequented within a large number of international cities. Nowadays, it seems like everyone and their grandmother is commuting to work or heading off to the shops on these speedy little contraptions – and unlike most other fads, this is one we actually hope will last. Keep on reading to find out why.
Did you know you only need to cycle for two to four hours a week, or roughly half an hour a day, to start seeing a general improvement in your health? There are endless health advantages when it comes to regular cycling, which is good for your mind, body and spirit. As an aerobic activity, cycling exercises many different muscles and limbs, working to increase your cardiovascular fitness, improve your posture and coordination, strengthen your bones, and improve your mobility and flexibility. It’s also a great way to boost your metabolism and manage your weight, as in combination with a nutritious and varied diet, cycling works to build muscle and burn off body fat. A 2009 study of nearly 2400 adults discovered that people who cycled to work were fitter, leaner and less likely to be obese, as well as having better blood pressure and insulin levels, than those who took public transport or drove. Even simply being outside while cycling, breathing in fresh air and spending time in the outdoors, works to improve people’s spirits, and even helps to relieve negative emotions associated with mental health conditions such as depression, stress and anxiety.
The really great thing about cycling is that it never just serves one purpose, health-wise; the act itself helps you in many different ways at once. Once you own a bike, you can say goodbye to expensive gym memberships and costly exercise classes – cycling is effectively a completely free workout, as all it takes is your own two legs to get you into motion. People who enjoy engaging in exercise in a social manner also don’t need to sacrifice companionship when it comes to this form of physical activity, as cycling can easily be conducted solo, with a partner, or with group of friends. Cycling is also, first and foremost, a method of transportation; you’re never just exercising, as your bike is actually taking you where you need to go, whether you have a specific destination in mind or simply want to enjoy the journey.
Cycling doesn’t just look after your individual health – it’s also beneficial on a much larger level, as it helps to protect and preserve the environment by ensuring there’s less noise pollution, fossil fuels and toxic greenhouse gas emissions from cars and other large vehicles. The statistics speak for themselves when it comes to the embodied energy of a car versus that of a bike. ‘Embodied energy’ refers to the total energy that goes into manufacturing and developing a product, which includes the mining, refining and transport of required materials, as well as the pollution emitted in the process. A typical $30,000 AUD car embodies 475 gigajoules of energy, which translates to 41 tonnes of carbon dioxide and over one million litres of water. In stark contrast, a typical $500 AUD bike only embodies 8.8 gigajoules of energy, or 0.75 tonnes of carbon dioxide and 19,000 litres of water.
Additionally, each car produces approximately 26.5 tonnes of rubbish when it comes to upkeep and repairs, while bikes, being smaller, slower and having a far less complex construction, require much less maintenance and thus produce less waste. Simply put, if more urban dwellers started riding bikes instead of driving their cars, cities would be much cleaner, safer and healthier to live in.
Saves Time and Money
Cycling doesn’t just do wonders for your health and help the environment; it’s also an extremely cost- and time-effective method of transportation.
- Office workers who use their bikes to commute to work are able to deftly manoeuvre through traffic much better and faster than they would be able to by taking public transport, or their own vehicles.
- This form of exercise helps those who have a sedentary lifestyle, perhaps in the workplace, to become more active and healthy.
- Another bonus is that there’s no need to worry about expensive parking fees in the city – just make sure you have a good lock on your bike!
- Cycling also saves people countless dollars when it comes to petrol money and/or public transport fare.
- The convenience of having a bike means that cyclers don’t need to wait around for their bus or train to arrive, or panic if they’ve missed it – they’re free to go whenever they’re ready.
All the Pros, None of the Cons
When it comes to cycling, there’s no good reason not to take up this highly practical and enjoyable physical activity. When you think about your overall happiness and well-being, cycling regularly, either as a way to commute to work or simply as an enjoyable pastime, has multiple health and lifestyle benefits that will stand you in good stead both physically and financially in the long run. Consider, for example, ways in which health insurance providers reward those who can prove they’ve been keeping physically active. It’s important to always keep your physical and mental health a priority, and cycling regularly can definitely ensure that your mind and body stays in tip-top shape.