The United States Census bureau released a report about how people traveled to work showing that young, urban workers were driving less and using other methods of commuting more, especially in metropolitan areas. One of these ways of commuting is by biking to work. For the “workers with the highest earnings and no vehicles at home, the rate of bicycle commuting more than doubled between 2006 and 2013, from 1.1 percent to 2.4 percent.” Although it’s by no means a large percentage of the overall commuter population, biking to work is definitely on the rise.
There are plenty of reasons why biking to work is on the rise and such a great alternative to driving to work.
- It’s much cheaper to own a bicycle instead of a car, and because you won’t need a car, then you also won’t need car maintenance expenses, insurance, and weekly fill-ups at the gas station.
- You won’t have to sit in morning traffic and possibly waste 38 hours of your year in traffic. Since most people’s commutes to work are less than five miles a day, you can spend the same amount of time or less on a bike than you would in a car.
- The earth will become a tiny bit green because you chose to bike to work instead of taking the car or even public transportation. With fewer cars on the road, there would be less harmful pollutants being emitted into the air.
- Your taxes will get a small break for bike-related expenses if you live in the United States of America, and if you’re in Europe, you’ll save a ton of money by biking just by not filling up the purposely overpriced gas.
- Spending more time than you wanted searching for a parking spot will be over.
Other than those reasons, the best reason for biking to work involves your health and a better you!
Let’s look at why this new (or old) way to commute could be part of your daily health regimen.
The Health Benefits of Biking to Work
One of the best physical benefits of biking to work is losing weight. By commuting to and from work each day, you are naturally adding more exercise to your day that you might not have gotten at all without the commute. Thus, you are burning calories leading to weight loss.
Biking burns about 500 calories an hour so if you bike an hour to and from work each day of the work week, then it’s possible to lose three to four pounds a month.
A bike commuter, Corey Barton, lost 130 pounds by biking to work 5 miles each way. He previously weighed 330 pounds and now weighs a healthier 200 pounds with a goal of losing 15 pounds more. Combined with a vegetarian diet, he feels happier, more confident, and has more energy, which all started from biking to work.
Increase Cardiovascular Health
Biking is great for cardiovascular health. Diseases related to poor cardiovascular health include but are not limited to stroke, high blood pressure, and heart attack.
Biking regularly, as you would to work, would improve your heart, lung, and blood circulation by strengthening your heart, reducing your resting pulse, and reducing blood fat levels. This, in turn, would decrease the risk of these cardiovascular diseases.
As a bonus, bike commuters are exposed to less pollution than car commuters, which would improve lung function.
When you exercise, your brain releases a chemical called serotonin. This is often known as the happiness trigger because this chemical makes you feel better and improves your mindset.
After this chemical is released, it’s much easier to regulate emotions or mindsets that may interfere with work such as anxiety, depression, and stress. By decreasing stress or better managing it, tasks can appear to be easier than they used to be prior to biking to work.
Also, being able to manage stress better usually leads to building better relationships with your colleagues and employers, which can help you out in the long-run with your job.
Perform Better at Work
Exercise can boost your job performance and productivity. After you exercise, you increase the amount of blood flow that goes to your brain so as soon as you step in the office, you’ll be alert and ready to work.
Having more energy will enable you to be more cognizant of your task at hand and help you perform your work to the best of your ability.
Also, working out daily can help decrease the risk of getting certain sicknesses because of increased immunity. With less of a chance of getting an illness such as the common cold or flu, you’ll use up less of your sick days, and possibly, use those for vacation instead!
Making Sure Biking to Work is Safe
Even though biking to work has so many benefits, there is still the factor that you’ll be biking on roads with traffic and unforeseen circumstances.
Always be safe by:
- Wearing a helmet at all times.
- Head injuries account for most of the biking-related deaths in the United States so wearing a helmet to protect your head is a must.
- Stay visible.
- Make sure you are visible to pedestrians, bikers, and especially, cars. You can do this by biking in the daylight but if it’s already nightfall by the time your commute back home comes up, then try wearing brightly colored clothes. Assuming your work clothes has specific standards, then you can get a bright orange vest to toss over your work clothes at the beginning and end of the day.
- Obey traffic rules.
- Traffic rules for cars also apply to bikes. Follow them in order to stay safe and visible to cars.
- Bike according to traffic times and weather.
- Although you used to drive during rush hour, rethink if biking during that time is safe. If it’s not, then try heading out a little earlier or later. Also, if there’s poor visibility, then biking alongside vehicles will need extra precaution.