The Benefits of Biking
by Gayle Cottrill
When I was first told about this month’s feature topic, I was super excited, as I love bike riding. What was once simply my mode of transportation has now become one of my favorite pastimes and ways to exercise. Biking is not only fun, but also a great addition to any list of healthy lifestyle choices.
I enjoy biking because it is what I like to call a “productive” exercise. While I do enjoy a leisurely bike ride just for fun, what I enjoy most is that I can exercise at the same time I travel somewhere: work, a restaurant, a friend’s house, a park, or a farmer’s market. Once the weather is warm enough, my bike is my favorite way to travel when it’s time to go do something fun.
Biking gets you outside and can help relieve stress or boost your mood. Even as a mode of transportation it can be enjoyable noticing things in your community that you may never have noticed from a car. There are certain sights, sounds, and smells that hit you in a different way as you pedal past them. When it comes to biking to busy events like a farmer’s market, you can bypass traffic and always get a good parking spot. Add a basket or panniers to your bike, and hauling your wares home is super easy.
As biking is ultimately an exercise, there are a myriad of health benefits that come along with the pastime. Biking is a low-impact, aerobic exercise, which means it’s easy on your joints and good for your heart and lungs. You can plan your bike ride to fit your fitness level. Choose hills to challenge yourself or stay where it’s flat if you want an easy ride. Play around with your gears as you bike and speed up if you want to break a sweat. Because of the resistance you face biking, you’ll not just burn fat but also build muscle if you make it a habit. Research has shown that biking, like most exercises, can reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer. And finally, getting a good workout in during the day can help you sleep better at night.
Riding a bike is something that the whole family can enjoy together which can be good for your mental health. There are wagons and extensions or seats that can be added to a bike or hauled behind it for the young kids (or even pets). You can use bike riding as a social outlet and meet up with friends or other biking enthusiasts in the area. The Fox Cities has some wonderful, friendly biking groups who are always willing to welcome new members.
Overall, riding a bike is an easy, yet productive, exercise that can help combat a sedentary lifestyle and help you wrack up those aerobic exercise minutes while enjoying the outdoors at the same time. So, dust off your old two-wheeler and go explore your neighborhood in a new way. (And don’t forget your helmet!)