Many consider the bicycle as a hip, new way to get around, but this trusty old invention has actually been around for more than 200 years. Due to today’s booming urbanisation, however, cycling has become one of the most popular means to travel to and from work.
But if you’re new to the cycling bandwagon and would like to know more about it, then read on to discover more about its many benefits.
We’ll start with the most obvious: biking makes you healthier. When done consistently (which shouldn’t be a problem, unless you work remotely), cycling can help you build muscle, lose body fat and increase overall stamina. In fact, a study done by the University of Copenhagen showed that biking to work is just as effective as hitting the gym five days a week.
So, if you’re hoping to flaunt a svelte figure come summertime but don’t have the extra time to exercise, cycling to work is a great alternative you should definitely consider.
It goes without saying that having a healthy and active lifestyle can lead to a longer life. But biking significantly increases those odds by lowering your risk of early death. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, cycling to work reduces your chances of getting cancer by 45%, and it also cuts your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases by 46%. It’s no wonder why middle-aged cyclists live at least two years more than most people: they’ve known the secret to a long life all along!
Speaking of secrets to a longer life, biking, it seems, also holds the key to unlocking the fountain of youth. A paper recently published in the online journal Aging Cell found that cycling holds back the effects of ageing by preserving muscle mass and by keeping the immune system young. The study found that cyclists with ages between 50 and 70 generated just as many immune cells as those in their early 20s. This only proves that while ageing can’t be stopped, cycling can (at the very least) delay it. So, if you think that all that workplace stress is causing you wrinkles, then maybe switching to riding a bike can help lessen their appearance.
But if you think cycling to work only has physical benefits, then hold on to your hats because it apparently makes you smarter, too. In a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), healthy young men were asked to take an exam, after which they had to ride a stationary bike for 30 minutes and then retake the exam. After cycling, results showed that the men scored higher in tests of memory, reasoning and planning. Increasing your cognitive ability and improving these areas of the brain are certainly helpful when it comes to excelling at work, too.
It’s no secret that exercise releases a slew of happy hormones, including dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. But apart from these, cycling also increases the number of cannabinoids produced by the body. It’s the same kind of chemical found in marijuana and, similar to the plant, cannabinoids affect the part of the brain that causes euphoria. This is why so many cyclists talk about experiencing a kind of ‘high’ after going on a long ride. But you don’t need to go on a cycling marathon to experience this same effect. Just a short ride from your home to your work can also provide the same uplifting effect – so, say ‘goodbye’ to the Monday blues and ‘hello’ to spandex!
With petrol prices increasing every year, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out how cycling to work can save you lots of money. Apart from being a fraction of what regular cars cost, bikes are easier and don’t require a lot of upkeep. If you’re serious about switching to cycling, you’ll have to make an initial investment of $500 or more. That’s still significantly less than getting a new car which will cost an average of $8,469 annually or $706 each month.
If you live in the UK, meanwhile, biking can also help you save through the government’s cycle to work scheme which encourages citizens to bike more by allowing the employers to pay for their bikes and safety equipment as a tax-free benefit.
One of the great things about cycling to work is that you get to meet new people who share the same interests. Apart from gaining new friends, you also have the opportunity to expand your professional network by meeting people from different industries. Who knows? You might even get a job offer from any of the acquaintances you make! After all, many successful people are known to love cycling, and they’re more likely to hire someone they know and who shares the same values.
Cycling to work can save you on one more very important thing: time. All over the world, people waste so much time stuck in traffic that they lose opportunities across all areas of their lives. They start their workday frustrated that they can’t find a parking spot; then they arrive late to the office which affects their productivity; and, because they have to throw in overtime, they lose the opportunity to spend time with their children. Don’t fall into this endless cycle of loss, and save your precious time by cycling to work.
While this benefit may not directly affect your career, no one can deny that starting your workday on a positive note does wonders. And what’s more positive than knowing you’re doing your share to help the environment? When you switch to bikes from cars during your daily commute, that makes a huge impact on your carbon footprint. In fact, if the distance between your home and workplace is around 10km and you bike that distance for each day of the year, you’ll be able to save around 1500kg worth of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s a lot of polar bears saved! (Besides, what’s the point of racing to work in your car if the world ends because of global warming, anyway?)
This might not seem like the most life-changing benefit you can get from cycling, but having better posture can help you in more ways than you think. Apart from preventing muscle tension and unnecessary back pain, it also makes you appear more confident, which is essential in any workplace. It’s a well-known fact that body language (done right) can help advance your career, and great body posture is just one of the ways in which you can make yourself stand out.
We’re not saying cycling to work doesn’t have its downsides. Yes, it will feel like hell during the summer and, of course, there’s a chance you’ll get rained on and freeze during the winter. But these are things that you can easily prepare for; whether it’s leaving half an hour earlier, bringing an umbrella or by putting an extra pair of clothing.
When you look at how it benefits you, though, the pros certainly outweigh the cons. So, make cycling part of your routine today, and see the difference it makes!
Have you ever tried cycling to work? Share your commuting stories with us in the comments section below!