If cycling to work is a realistic option for you, 2 wheels is easily the best way to commute. Brilliant for your health, bank balance and the environment, the benefits are well worth the effort. You’ll skip the expense of driving or public transport, reduce your CO2 emissions and wave goodbye to the frustration of traffic and delays. Instead, say hello to better health, improved fitness, better sleep and more control.
Here are just some of the advantages:
You’ll get fit and healthy
Cycling is a convenient, practical and fun way to incorporate exercise into your routine and achieve the recommended daily 30 minutes of moderate physical activity.
Not only does cycling improve cardiovascular fitness and endurance, it also builds muscles in your legs and core. Low-impact and gentle on the joints, it’s suitable for people of all ages and those with certain injuries. It is also an effective calorie-burner and good for those looking to lose weight: according to research from the University of East Anglia, you could lose 7 kilos over just 2 years if your daily cycle lasts longer than 30 minutes.
A quick side note: For those who live in a busy city afraid that cycling through polluted air is more harmful than beneficial, a study by academics at King’s College London shows you’d have to cycle for nearly 10 hours a day through rush-hour traffic in the centre of London before the damage done by the pollution outstrips the benefit you’re getting from the exercise.
It’s great for the environment
About half of the CO2 emissions in the UK come from vehicles. As cycling is a pollution-free mode of transport, switching your car for your bike just a few times a week will help lead to cleaner air, less congestion and quieter roads.
It’ll save you money
Cycling is much cheaper than both driving and public transport. While the initial cost of a bicycle can be high, you’ll save money in the long run thanks to low maintenance costs. The cost of buying and maintaining a bike is around 1% of the cost of a car. Factor in the money saved in annual MOTs, repairs, fuel and parking, and you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank!
In many UK cities there are also bike sharing schemes that help make cycling easy and affordable. Additionally, many employers are part of the Cycle to Work scheme which can further reduce costs.
It’s often a more convenient and efficient option
The beauty of cycling is no longer finding yourself at the mercy of unpredictable traffic or train delays! Gone are the days of frustration and anger as you sit helplessly in traffic or on a stationary train. Cycling offers much more predictability and independence and as you’re not controlled by set routes, it’s also often much quicker when travelling shorter distances.
It will help improve your mental health
Not only does commuting under your own steam remove the frustration and stress that often comes with driving or public transport, but it releases feel-good endorphins that will boost your mood, help concentration, reduce stress levels and improve sleep.
Instead of arriving at work irritated and sluggish, you’ll start the day invigorated and fresh from the exercise and fresh air. After a day in the office, the cycle home will help clear your mind, minimise stress and get your blood pumping.
You’ll help create a healthier, happier society
Cycling can be a solution to many of the issues facing cities and towns across the UK such as obesity, depression and pollution. If more people cycled, it would reduce the number of cars on the road, lessen pollution, reduce the pressure on the NHS and ultimately help create a greener, fitter and healthier nation.
And as more people start to cycle, it has a positive knock-on effect as the infrastructure will continue to improve, leading to more cyclists cycling in safer environments.
Tips to help get started
If you’ve never cycled to work, the thought may seem daunting. While some people worry about safety, cycling is actually much safer than you think. Stats show that one cyclist is killed for every 29 million miles covered by bike on British roads, and mile for mile the risk of death is about the same as walking. Furthermore, cycling is so good for your health that statistically, the years of life gained outweigh the years lost through injuries by around 20:1.
To help ease yourself in:
- Try a few practice runs over the weekends. This will help you get your bearings and gain confidence without as many cars around
- Invest in a good helmet and wear it whenever you ride
- Make sure you have all the bike lights required; the law demands: one front light, one rear light, one rear reflector and reflectors on your pedals
- Explore all the different route options available – the one suggested on maps may be quickest, but there may be other routes that are less busy and more pleasurable to ride on
- A group exercise cycling class can help you get comfortable on a bike, improve your fitness and boost your confidence in a social and relaxed environment. You’ll find a number of fun cycling classes at David Lloyd Clubs, including our latest offering, Rhythm.