When you think about cycling, you may well be thinking about fitness pursuers with specialized bikes and the Tour de France. But there’s so much more to cycling than the professional levels, and it’s a fantastic way to elevate your daily life. Pedalling to work, for example, can certainly help your fitness levels as well as your mental health. In this article, we’re exploring all the ways you can bring the benefits of cycling into your everyday life.
The use of cycling regularly
There are so many ways that cycling can improve your day-to-day life. Cycling can improve your mental wellbeing for one, with a study by the YMCA finding that individuals with a physically active lifestyle recorded a wellbeing score which was 32 per cent higher than people who were inactive. There are obviously many ways to exercise, but cycling stands out as it allows you to take part in physical exercise, get outdoors and explore fresh surroundings.
Cycling alone is also great way to spend some much-need ‘me-time’. Graeme Obree, a former hour record holder, expanded on this aspect in particular by telling Cycling Weekly: “Getting out and riding will help [people suffering with depression] … Without cycling, I don’t know where I would be.”
Of course, your body can also benefit from the exercise. For instance, the activity promotes weight loss — between 400 and 1,000 calories can be burnt per hour depending on your level of intensity and your weight — and it also builds muscle, especially around the calves, hamstrings, glutes, and quadriceps.
There’re also the overall health benefits. Cycling has been found to reduce the risk of you developing cancer or heart disease, improve your lung health, allow you to enjoy better sleep, and increase your brain power. Plus, it’s not just your health and wellbeing that will see improvements if you cycle more regularly either. Pedaling to and from a destination can actually take a shorter amount of time than completing the commute in a vehicle, depending on the distance and the level of traffic encountered of course.
There are also financial savings to be enjoyed. Cyclescheme.co.uk imagined a scenario back in 2011 whereby a cyclist travelled for five miles to work every day and then another five miles to get back home. Covering a 48-week year — holidays were taken out of the equation — the organisation found that 2,400 miles will be covered, which would account for around £320 in fuel costs if a vehicle was used to travel the distance. That sum was based on the average cost of fuel during 2011; just imagine the savings today seeing as though fuel prices have continued to skyrocket over the past decade.
Bringing cycling to your daily commute
Could cycling to work be on the cards? Cycling Weekly has some handy tips about how to commute to work using a bicycle. According to the UK’s best-selling cycling magazine, you’ll want to get your hands on a road bike that is capable of riding through any weather condition without any fuss and which you can rely on with minimal maintenance. Consider fitting your bike with mudguards too — no one wants to arrive at the office with mud and muck covering their clothes — as well as wide tyres which will work to spread the load, improve comfort levels, and provide enhanced grip during wet weather.
Then there’s the cycle gear. Take note that it’s a legal requirement for you to have a white front light and red rear light, both in working order, on your bike after dusk and before dawn. It’s advised that you use these lights throughout the day too though, as they’ll improve your visibility. You may also want to buy a backpack that you can fill with your essential work items and then carry over your shoulders while you cycle, or a pannier rack for your bike if you often carry a lot of stuff during a commute.
Be sure to cycle with confidence. To help, Cycling Weekly advises: “Hugging the curb often encourages drivers to pass closely, which will only increase any nervousness that caused you to do so in the first place — so avoid this and keep a safe distance that affords you room to swerve around a pot hole should you need to.
“When approaching junctions, check behind you and move into the centre of the lane when it’s safe to do so — this prevents anyone from overtaking or undertaking when it’s not safe to do so.”
It’s important to be able to look behind you confidently when cycling. Cycling one-handed is another essential skill, as there will be times when you need to release one hand from the bike’s handlebars to indicate and tell other road users that you’re about to make a turn.
Investing in a high-quality bike lock is essential too. It’s recommended that you apply one lock to the frame of the bike and then a cable lock to the wheels if they are attached by quick-release skewers. On the topic of security, try and leave your bike in a location that is monitored by CCTV too.
Be prepared for heading into work after your ride! Therefore, keep a pair of appropriate work shoes at work which you can quickly slip into once you’ve arrived, and pack some dry shampoo and wet wipes to look the part if your workplace doesn’t have its own shower.
Cycling on a daily basis can bring so many benefits for you to enjoy — we hope you’ll agree!