Cycling Your Way to a Healthier You
With a new year, often comes resolutions to be more active. Gym members can attest to the drastic change that happens after January 1st. Treadmills and elliptical machines, abandoned over the holidays, are now crowded with people hoping to lose weight and get healthy. While some might find success, many of us will succumb to our busy schedules and quit after only a few weeks.
Why is it so hard to make time for exercise, and stick with it? The American Heart Association recommends that we get about 30 minutes of physical activity per day. 30 minutes doesn’t sound too bad, until you add the 20 minutes it takes to drive to and from the gym. Add in time to stretch and shower, and you’ve lost nearly two hours of your day. But, what if you could incorporate activity into some of the tasks you already do each day?
Cycling is a healthy, fun and low-impact form of exercise that can easily be fit into your daily routine. Think of how quickly you could meet the 30 minute daily requirement if you rode a bike to work, to meet friends, or to grab a few groceries. You are traveling to these destinations already, why not fit in some physical activity while you do it? Rather than setting aside time for exercise, you can simply replace sedentary time in your car with active transportation. And it’s never been easier to bike in Columbus. Take a look around the city, and you’ll quickly start to notice all of the new infrastructure designed to support bicycling.
The Scioto and Olentangy bike trails have been in place for a while, but the completed Scioto Greenways project has made biking from neighborhood to neighborhood easier and much more scenic. You can now make your way from German Village through Downtown, Franklinton, Grandview, the Short North, Campus, and Clintonville all from the comfort of a paved trail. What if you need to leave the trail to get to work Downtown, or to meet a friend for coffee in the Short North? New projects such as the protected bike lanes on Summit Street, and green queue boxes designed to help you make left-hand turns are making it easier and safer for cyclists to travel throughout the city.
Don’t have a bike? With COGO bike share, you can make unlimited 30 minute trips for only $6 per day, or $75 for the year. Plus, you get the added bonus of not having to worry about bike maintenance or storage. If you do decide to purchase your own, Third Hand Bicycle Cooperative has a great selection of second-hand bikes, and offers free bike repair classes. Feeling nervous about riding with traffic, facing harsh weather, or navigating the city by bicycle? Yay Bikes! has you covered. The Columbus non-profit provides a pretty extensive list of educational opportunities designed to get you riding no matter what your experience level. They’ll even map out your ride from home to work and take you on a test ride to show you how to do it. How cool is that?
Not only is cycling relatively easy, but it has pretty amazing health benefits. Most of us know that cycling is great for strength, stamina and aerobic fitness. But, it also provides a great muscle workout, using all of the major muscle groups as you peddle. According to new research, cycling can even sharpen your thinking and melt away stress. And it’s fun! The adventure and thrill you get from coasting down hills and being outdoors means you are much less likely to get bored, and more likely to stick with it as compared with other forms of exercise that require special times and spaces. And let’s not forget the financial incentive. If saving money is another one of your New Year’s resolutions, cycling for transportation is a great way to do it. Even if you only replace some of your car trips with cycling, you’ll save on gas, parking, and wear on your car.
This year, skip the gym, and try a new way to get your 30 minutes per day. Maybe I’ll see you around town!