Everybody wants to be healthier. At least, we all claim to, but then say we don’t have time to exercise: “I’d love to go cycling, but I’m just so busy.” Well, we have the time to sit in traffic on our commutes, simply because going to work is how we make money. But what if you rode your bike to work? You would not only increase your health but help the environment at the same time. It’s a win-win situation.
Employers want healthy and happy employees, and by promoting cycling to work, you’ll establish a support system for your workforce and encourage them to get active. Pedal to Health helps explain some of the specific health-focused positive outcomes:
- Lowering blood pressure. Twenty-nine percent of American adults have high blood pressure, according to the CDC, so there’s likely multiple people in your office with this issue. Having high blood pressure increases your chances of heart disease, but cycling helps lower your blood pressure over the long term.
- Reducing bad cholesterol. This is another cause of heart disease: clogged arteries resulting from high cholesterol. Aerobic exercise helps your body reduce the amount of bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol. Dr. Stuart Seale recommends doing an aerobic activity for 30–60 minutes a day, five days a week. What other action do you do five days a week? That’s right: go to work. Regularly pedaling on your commute is a simple way to get that exercise in.
- Fighting cancer. This benefit of biking might seem hard-to-believe, but some scientists think our current sedentary lifestyles, which focus heavily on sitting on our behinds, are increasing our chances of getting cancer. Dr. Neville Owen told ABC News, “When you’re sitting, the big muscles, especially in the lower part of the body, are completely unloaded. They’re not doing their job.” This may change your metabolism and increase your chances of getting cancer. By biking to work, you’re getting regular cardiovascular exercise and working those muscles in the lower half of your body.
- Burning calories. Many of us could stand to lose a few pounds, and riding your bike is a great way to do that. Depending on how long your commute is, you could burn off a couple hundred calories each way — much more than you’d burn while sitting in traffic. The International Bicycle Fund says the average person loses 13 pounds in their first year of bicycle commuting, even without changing their eating habits. That’s a huge bonus.
- Easing stress. Most peoples’ jobs cause a great deal of stress, which lead to a whole host of health problems. Cycling to work, however, can help reduce this stress. How? Exercise pumps up your endorphin level, which helps you feel better. Exercise also gives you time to shake off your daily worries, improving your mood and putting you in a more positive frame of mind during – and after – your workday.
- Saving money. Wait, that’s not a health benefit! Well, of course it is. It’s not that bicycle riding is free; it’s not. But it can cost less than gas and wear and tear on your car, and it improves your health. Being healthy means you’ll spend less money at the doctor. Having more money, in turn, lowers your stress. This is a cycle that seems good for everyone.
Cycling to work won’t solve all your problems, but it will help you improve your health, lose weight and reduce stress levels.
Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she interviewed and hired employees, managed the numbers and double-checked with the lawyers. Her writings have appeared in Inc. Magazine, CBS MoneyWatch, US News, Readers Digest and other publications. She focuses on helping businesses nurture great employees and helping employees enjoy great careers.