There are so many reasons why biking is a great way to get exercise. I grew up in Portland, Oregon, which is widely regarded as the most bike-friendly city in the country. So it should come as no surprise that I’m an avid bicyclist myself, and have been for as long as I can remember. I’ve found it to be a pleasant and enjoyable activity that offers many health benefits at the same time. As a proud owner of three different bicycles, I’m a very strong advocate for cycling, which has not only been a staple of my family, but also has become a very much central part of my life and even my identity.
Many people will agree with me that bicycling is a fantastic way to get healthy and improve yourself physically and mentally – plus, it’s a ton of fun! Whether you are eager to explore bicycling as a new recreational activity or are already a seasoned cyclist, there is always something to be discovered about the health benefits of biking.
If you haven’t made up your mind about whether or not you’re ready to get into cycling, here are four reasons why biking can become your new favorite mode of fitness:
1. It’s healthy for your body and mind.
Biking is an extremely healthy activity, mentally and physically. It’s also a highly aerobic form of exercise that can burn lots of calories; in fact, studies have shown that most rookie bicycle-commuters lose 13 pounds after just one year of short bike rides to and from work.
Not only that, but cycling has also been proven to reduce stress, and many riders will agree that biking allows you to improve your mental health and general mood.
2. You can connect with more people and places.
You’ll quickly discover, as you incorporate biking into your daily routine, that bicycling is extremely convenient. Bikes have a versatility that even cars don’t have; they aren’t restricted to roads, and can be especially useful for people who live in densely-populated, traffic-plagued urban areas.
On top of that, traffic is, for the most part, non-applicable to cyclists (and if you’ve ever been stuck in a traffic jam in downtown, this is a huge motivator for me to travel by bike.) Biking is one of those workouts that doesn’t require a lot of effort or planning. If your work is a few miles from your house, bike there!
Need to run a quick errand? Get some exercise while taking care of it. You can even use it to take someone out on a date in the city or down some nice trails. If you’re a college student like me, a hard-working employee, or businessman, you know that time is valuable and it’s essential to be efficient – and since biking does this very well, it’s not surprising that more students are riding bikes.
3. It’s kind to the environment and your wallet!
Bicycling is all about reduction and minimalism. For the most part, all you need is you and your bike to do so much more. Gas-powered automobiles are the second largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., and too many Americans are driving cars instead of riding bicycles out of pure laziness.
Biking emits ZERO carbon emissions, and it’s still a great workout. If you’re someone looking to improve yourself as well as your community and environment, then biking is a no-brainer! Additionally, bikes don’t run on the expensive gas you get from the station – all you need is calories, fat, and energy that you want to burn.
Truth be told, you don’t even have to own a bike to treat yourself to a healthy and enjoyable workout on a bike, as long as a bike share program is nearby and accessible to you.
4. It’s safer than driving.
Interestingly enough, the more bikes you have on the road, the safer bicyclists will get, even though the trend is exactly the opposite with automobiles. Traditional workout methods can be strenuous on bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons, especially if done incorrectly or intensely. For bench pressing, a popular form of exercise and fitness training, a common issue is trying to bench more weight than you can handle, which could easily send someone to the emergency room, or worse.
That said, biking doesn’t involve any of these safety hazards, and as long as the proper safety gear is worn (a correctly-sized and sturdy helmet, at least), you can enjoy working out without having to worry about dealing with particularly hefty, difficult to control, and potentially dangerous equipment.
Another point to make is that biking is easier on your joints than other exercises, which is a notable concern for a lot of Americans.
Bicycling is an incredibly healthy and life-enriching activity, and there are so many reasons to bike that it’s difficult to make an argument against at least occasionally utilizing bicycling as a workout. For some, it may take more time to grow accustomed to, but trust me – take it slow, give it a try for a few workout sessions, and see if you’re not hooked. If you haven’t already tried Azumio’s health and fitness tracking mobile application, Argus provides useful workout tools that can help supplement your cycling workout, such as GPS-monitored activity statistics, a heart rate monitor, insight reports, social networking with thousands of other fitness enthusiasts, and more. Biking is and has been so much to me than just a great workout, and so I encourage you to, if you haven’t yet, get on a bike and start riding!
Arthur is a second-year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley studying Biology and Computer Science. He enjoys playing tennis, biking, hiking, running, and exploring in his free time to destress and relax.
Main Photo Credit: Death to Stock; Second Photo Credit: beeboys/shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: Osadchaya Olga/shutterstock.com; Fourth Photo Credit: Jacob Lund/shutterstock.com; Fifth Photo Credit: connel/shutterstock.com