Tuesday, July 16, 2019
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10 positive changes you will see after cycling to work for a month
See how your life will improve after four weeks of commuting on your bike.
Change is exciting. Taking the plunge and switching your car for a bicycle on the way to work is a huge change to your routine, but it comes with a wealth of benefits, from improving your health on a multitude of levels, to saving money and discovering more about your local area.
And so, we’ve listed some of the ways your life will change for the better after cycling to work every day for a month!
1. Your fitness will improve
As you already know, replacing driving with exercise every day will have a very positive impact on your overall fitness! But did you know that only minutes into the first bike ride, your metabolic rate and the rate of oxygen flow increases substantially?
You will feel sore and stiff the next day, but your body adapts to this new activity relatively quickly. After a few weeks, your strength and fitness begin to significantly improve, allowing you to cycle at a higher intensity with no additional soreness. You’ll also burn calories, protecting you against the health complications of obesity, and build lean muscle in your core and around the calves, quads, glutes and hamstrings.
2. You’ll feel happier in yourself
On that very first commute, blood flow to the brain will increase, causing you to feel more awake. Happiness hormones will also be oozing into your blood flow, boosting your motivation, decision making and efficiency throughout the day at work.
As the weeks pass and your body grows stronger, you begin to realise you are capable of achieving more than you thought possible at first. You’ll find you can cycle faster than before, and maybe you’ll realise that horrible uphill stretch isn’t as daunting as it seemed at the beginning of the month. As a result, your confidence and self-esteem will naturally grow and flourish as you accomplish more and more on each journey.
3. You’ll be less stressed
As well as boosting the positive, cycling to work can also help to spring clean the negative. Aerobic exercise can reduce your levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
In addition, all of the happy chemicals swirling around your body on a regular basis will help to combat symptoms of anxiety and depression, but the time you spend cycling also promotes mindfulness. Similar to meditation, it allows you to focus on the sensations you’re feeling in the moment, rather than finding yourself caught up in brooding, unhealthy thoughts.
4. You’ll sleep better
You’re exercising twice a day more often than you’re used to, so your body will be tiring itself out, bringing you to a more restful sleep.
While it isn’t clear as to how exactly physical activity contributes to sleep quality, researchers have found a drop in fitness in both men and women results in sleep problems. Scientists have suggested that this is because physical activity brings about the reduction of anxiety, a common cause of insomnia. It also prevents excess weight gain, a potential cause of sleep apnea.
5. You’ll have bags of energy (literally!)
Although you’ll be doing more activity than you’re used to, commuting on your bike will actually leave you with more energy than you would if you allowed yourself to press the snooze button and sit in a car all the way to work.
It may not feel like it at first. However, after a couple of weeks of cycling to and from work, your body’s mitochondria (the energy generator in all of your cells) reproduce rapidly. Not only does this boost the resilience of your cells, allowing them to stay healthier for longer, but the release of enzymes responsible for producing energy in the muscles will also increase.
While you might not be able to see all of these changes, you’ll certainly feel them, as you’ll have a stronger immune system and your body will feel less sluggish as a whole.
6. You’ll breathe easier
It’s been made pretty clear already that cycling to work benefits your all-round health in general, but it also does wonders for your lungs.
It is well-known that exercise benefits your respiratory system. As your fitness improves, your lung capacity increases, allowing you to take in more oxygen in each breath.
Not only this, but an exercise by the Healthy Air Campaign found that, on a busy central London route, a cyclist is exposed to less harmful fumes from pollution than someone taking the car or public transport. Compared to cycling, pollution levels were twice as high on a bus, and 90% higher in a car.
7. You’ll save time (on shorter journeys)
Traffic making you late for work? Not an issue when you’re cycling! Having a bike frees you from the shackles of gridlock.
Sometimes, having a big bulky car can only slow you down, especially when the roads are congested. You’ll all know the feeling; when it takes an eternity to creep forward only a few inches at a time. And even then, when you do arrive, you could be doing laps of the car park until you find a space. For the short distance you’re travelling, the morning commute in a car can go by incredibly slowly.
8. You’ll save money
The amount of money you spend on fuel, parking and tolls on your commute builds up. Cycling completely eradicates these costs. If you already have a bike, a small investment in some safety gear might be all it takes to get you on the road to saving money.
For example, say you have a 10 mile journey either way. Depending on varying fuel prices, that would cost you roughly £1.95 each way in petrol. In a week, that is £19.50 spent on fuel. So, cycling to work for a month could save you around £78 in petrol money alone.
9. You’ll get to know the area around you
Cycling to work frees up your route completely. You’re no longer restricted to the heavily congested roads you’re used to, so you can change up your journey to work as often as you like! Exploring the different cycle routes in your local area will open your eyes to places you may never normally visit, allowing you to see your home town in a whole new light.
Not only this, but it will help to develop your natural sense of direction. Technology has made many of us reliant on a Sat Nav or Google Maps when it comes to travelling, so getting out and exploring on the bike puts yourself in a situation where you have to rely on yourself and your memory, which helps to sharpen that skill up again.
10. You’ll meet new people in the community
Just as you’ll discover new places as you ride, you’ll discover new people too. Despite it being a solo sport, it can actually be very sociable. You could encounter others while out on a ride, or you could get chatting to people at your local cycle centre.
Either way, you will soon find a supportive network of likeminded people you can talk to for advice on anything bike-related. You could even plan to cycle to work with someone if anyone is going on the same route as you, or if you’re really feeling adventurous, you could try going out on a group ride in your free time.
Start commuting on your bike and see how far you will go
If that’s how much progress you’ll make in only a month, it’s exciting to think about how much further you can go, and how much this will continue to benefit you in the long run. But don’t just take out word for it. Try it out for yourself – see what you can achieve when you start commuting on your bike.
You can check out some of the cycle routes mapped out across Tees Valley on our website at www.letsgoteesvalley.co.uk/lets-go-ladies