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Did you know that 90% of Americans drive to work despite the fact that 70% of them have a commute that is less than 2 miles? Reading this statistic surprised me, even though I’m one of the 0.6% of our nation’s population that bikes to work.
What if you consider that over 37.5% of our population is classified as being obese yet a mere 1% rides a bike for commuting/running errands while in Holland only 9.3% of the population is obese and 25% bike instead of drive? Based on this comparison, it’s easy to see that the U.S. needs a transportation overhaul.
Biking Makes You Healthier
When biking to work for an entire year, the average person will lose 13 pounds (and keep it off!). By biking instead of driving, you’re also boosting your immunity which will help stave off bouts of the flu, common cold, and sinus infections. Additionally, an increase in exercise will typically cause your body to naturally crave food that is good for you. Instead of yearning for that candy bar for each afternoon’s pick-me-up, you may pleasantly be surprised to find yourself reaching for a bunch of grapes or an apple instead.
Since I began biking to work nearly every day, I have toned my muscles more, increased my cardio fitness (which also helps with my running), and I have seen a drastic reduction in the frequency of medical appointments. In fact, this past winter I didn’t have to be seen more than once for a sinus infection whereas the previous year I had been in my doctor’s office at least 4 times during cold & flu season! I can honestly say that I’m in the best shape of my life thanks in part to my daily bike commutes.
Biking Saves Money
Let’s say you currently drive to/from work each day, Monday through Friday. Given the insane gas prices we’re facing lately (plus, we’re headed into construction season which means a longer, more convoluted commute), let’s give a generous estimate that you fill your car for $55 twice a month. That’s 110 of your hard-earned dollars being funneled directly into your gas tank. If you continued to only fill up for this amount twice per month, after a full year you’d have spent $1,320 just on gasoline alone.
Last summer, I purchased a hybrid bicycle for less than $600, and I biked to work every day. I had an 8-week stretch where I didn’t have to put a single ounce of gas in my car’s tank. I could have purchased 2 brand-new bikes for how much I would have been spending on gasoline.
Furthermore, with your reduced stress, increased happiness and better health, you’ll be spending less money on healthcare costs. You’ll have to pay for far less co-pays, prescriptions and long-term costs if you establish a consistent exercise regimen and incorporating cycling into your day is an excellent way to do so!
Other monetary benefits of biking instead of driving include less maintenance costs due to less wear & tear on your vehicle, less money spent on parking, and a possible savings on utilities if you’re able to shower at your workplace in the mornings.
Biking Makes You Happier
Have you ever heard of the Runner’s High? Essentially, it’s that feeling of absolute bliss induced when endorphins are released as you exercise. Not only are you doing wonders for your body physically, but you’re ensuring its mental vitality as well.
For those people out there with the short commute to work, think about the increase in your general productivity and workplace morale if you’re not subjecting yourself to the daily road rage-filled drives or shoulder-to-shoulder subway rides. Imagine coming to work cool, calm & collected instead of being frazzled from a less than enjoyable commute. While biking to work demands your attention to traffic and safety, there are many moments where your mind is free to wander. This feeling of mental freedom can have profound effects on all aspects of your life, including work.
Biking can also help strengthen social bonds which are a proven key to overall happiness. May is National Bike week, so there’s no time like the present to get a group of friends and/or family members together for a ride. If you’re feeling particularly inspired, sign up to participate in National Bike to Work Week or Day (week is May 14-18; day is May 18). Happy pedaling!
Do you bike to work or when running errands? Why or why not?