As National Bike Month comes to a close, you (hopefully!) have ridden a bunch of miles over the last few weeks and have experienced many of these benefits of riding a bike. Wondering why you're feeling so awesome? Read on.
1. Biking is Easy Exercise
In this modern age, we try and squeeze so much into each day: work and/or school, spending quality time with friends and family, exercising and eating well...the list goes on and on. Naturally some things fall through the cracks each day, and we're always looking for ways to save time and make things easier.
Fortunately, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, one of the benefits of riding a bike for transportation is that it lets you add a fitness activity into your day even when you think you don't have time for a workout. "You get the same cardiovascular benefits from cycling that you get from any other form of aerobic exercise—walking, jogging or dancing," says Lisa Callahan, MD, medical director of the Women's Sports Medical Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. "It can be a very effective cardiovascular benefit."
Half of American workers live within five miles of their workplace, according to the most recent National Household Transportation Survey. That's a totally doable 20-minute ride each way. If you live close to your office, you can pedal to work twice a week and burn up to 3,000 extra calories—close to one pound of fat—each month. (source)
2. Biking Boosts Energy
We get it. Sometimes the thought of biking to work in the morning when you're sleepy can seem like too much. But did you know that one of the benefits of riding a bike is that it actually gives you energy?
A study published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found that bike riding improved energy levels by 20 percent and decreased fatigue by 65 percent. It turns out that bicycling triggers your brain to release the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is linked to energy, says lead author Patrick O'Connor, Ph.D., a professor of kinesiology at the University of Georgia at Athens. Even better, you don't have to tear down the bike line to realize this benefit of bike riding. People in the study who pedaled at a low to moderate pace three times a week fought fatigue best. (source)
3. Biking Saves Money
According to a report by the Sierra Club, riding a bike costs an average $0.86 per day, while using a car costs an average $23.09 per day. That's a savings of 94%! And, while we're big fans of public transportation, at less than a dollar, biking is still cheaper than taking the bus or the train.
So now that you've saved so much money this month, why not treat yourself to take advantage of one of the best benefits of riding a bike - extra disposable income? Some of our suggestions include a massage for your calves, brunch to replace all those burnt calories, and a new Po Campo bike bag perhaps? (Hint hint).
4. Biking is Better for the Environment
You probably already know that Po Campo strives to be an eco-friendly company. A core part of this is our commitment to biking for transportation. The eco benefits of riding a bike are numerous, but here a few good ones:
- Fewer Emissions. Yes, huffing a puffing up a hill increases your own CO2 emissions, but that's so insignificant compared to what a car or bus puts out there. If you choose to bike to work just one day a week, you'll be reducing your carbon emissions by 20% annually. (source)
- Fewer Product Emissions. Of course manufacturing a bicycle results in CO2 emissions, but they are significantly less than a car. Momentum Magazine's "How Green is Your Bike" article goes into more detail.
- Decrease Paved Surfaces. Ever walk across a big parking lot on a hot day and feel like you are literally being baked to death? That's the infamous "heat island effect" that can increase temperatures as much as 22º F. Since bikes require less pavement, transitioning to bike transportation can help us turn some of those parking lots into parks, bringing the air temperature down, and reducing our need to spend energy to cool it artificially.
5. Biking Reduces Stress and Helps Your Brain Function
Our founder Maria Boustead often cites biking's power as a stress reliever as one of her favorite benefits of riding a bike. It's scientifically proven too! Physical activity, like bicycling, boosts the production of feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. "As soon as our lab rats start running on their wheels, they get a 100 to 200 percent increase in serotonin levels," says J. David Glass, PhD, a brain-chemistry researcher at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.
We all think clearer when we're less stressed, but does bicycling actually make you smarter? In Bicycling Magazine's "Your Brain on Bicycling", researchers show that when you pedal, you also force more nerve cells to fire, which, in turn, promotes the formation of new brain cells. The result: You double or triple the production of neurons—literally building your brain, says Canadian neuroscientist Brian Christie, PhD. Christie.
Did we cover your favorite benefits of riding a bike? Leave your additional suggestions in the comments below!