Editor’s note: this is part two of a five-part series from Coast Reporter and TraC (Transportation Choices) concerning commuter cycling on the Sunshine Coast during the annual Bike To Work Week May 26 to June 1.
The reasons why exercise makes us feel good are still unclear. What is clear is that daily exercise can improve our mood, cognition, our physical health and our mental well-being.
One obvious benefit, same with any sport, is the increase in cardiovascular fitness, which in turn leads to a decrease in coronary artery disease. Studies have shown that just 25 km of cycling a week can reduce your risk of heart disease by more than half. Even adjusted for any injury, that means an increased lifespan — hopefully one where you can enjoy good health for most of those years.
Even cycling on the flat builds muscle. Your legs and gluteal muscles (and even your arms) will tone up and suddenly you will find that there is less wobble when you put on that swimsuit come summer. An added benefit for those with painful or arthritic joints is that cycling is a low impact sport, kinder to those knees and hips than running or step classes.
Consider this: you may not need to just gaze at that piece of chocolate as longingly when you have been cycling as the sport burns about 300 calories an hour, which continues with a metabolism boost after you have finished. And if you ever feel like you spend your life tripping over things, or being terrible at video games, good news — cycling helps with your co-ordination, as it involves every part of the body and will help you pick those feet up and be more aware of you surroundings.
Moderate, daily exercise can also be a way of managing, or even alleviating, certain mental illnesses. There is evidence to suggest that daily exercise can help individuals with sleep disorders, moderate depression, and dementia.
The satisfaction of a nice ride, the endorphins, the scenery that you may encounter, all make for a great experience and a happier life. It’s been said that bike commuters feel as though they are part of a community, making them more empathetic and less aggressive than our driving friends.
You don’t need to cycle huge distances or even tackle massive hills, but get in the saddle, by yourself, or with friends and family, and you will feel good — it’s a prescription that is soothing for the soul.
For free registration to Bike To Work Week 2014, go to www.biketowork.ca/sunshine-coast and click on the tab “Register.”
© Coast Reporter