Nearly 800,000 people in the UK are reaping the rewards of commuting to work by bicycle regularly – a number which continues to grow. From the benefits of getting regular exercise and fresh air (a study has found that passengers in buses and cars inhale more pollution than cyclists) to saving money on transport, cycling is becoming an increasingly popular way to travel in the city. Here are some of the reasons to get on your bike for Cycle to Work Day.
Research by car manufacturer Citroen found the average speed of a car in London during rush-hour is just 7mph – around half of the average speed of a cyclist on busy roads. While motorists are stuck in traffic, cyclists can travel between 12 and 14mph.
Two of the best ways to build cardiovascular fitness is to run for at least 150 minutes a week or cycling to work a few days a week. A study published earlier in 2015 in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that even pedalling for just five to 10 minutes on a regular basis can help keep your heart healthy.
Once you have splashed out on a good bicycle and essential accessories such as a helmet and high-visibility clothing, the money you would normally spend on petrol, the train or the bus can go towards something far more rewarding than travelling to work – such as a holiday. An excellent incentive to get cycling.
Exercising helps you to get a better night's sleep – but cycling is especially good at helping combat sleepless nights. Over the course of 35 years, researchers at the University of Georgia analysed the health habits of more than 8,000 men and women aged between 20 and 85. They found that when participants became less fit over time, they had more trouble getting a restful sleep. Exactly how physical activity helps tackle insomnia is as yet unknown, but researchers suggest it might help calm anxiety – a key cause of sleeplessness.
Workout for the brain
Illinois University researchers found that improving cardio-respiratory fitness from five percent led to an improvement of 15% in mental tests. According to the study, cycling helps build new brain cells in the hippocampus, the brain region responsible for memory.
Save the planet
Not only will you be avoiding pollution, but cycling is far greener than driving or taking public transport. Cycling to work for just a few days a week is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.
Air pollution causes around 29,000 premature deaths each year. But surprisingly, a study by the Healthy Air Campaign (conducted with King's College London and Camden Council) have found that people who travel by car experience five-times higher pollution levels than those who cycle.
Easy to get fit
One of the best things about cycling to work is that it takes no time out of your day. You may find you get to work more quickly by avoiding traffic and may be able to dedicate less time to the gym.
Burn more fat
According to the NHS, someone who weights around 12st 9Ib (80kg) will burn more than 650 calories with an hour's riding, which also tones up the legs and bottom. You will also work your upper body if you cycle off-road or uphill.
Cycling is good for your well-being, as being physically fit and healthy can also help boost mental health. Exercise is known to be good for beating anxiety and stress.