Saturday, November 29, 2008

Great Reasons Why You Should Bike

By Frederic Premji


I have to say that this is one of my favorite topics to write a post about. I absolutely love biking. I used to bike very often as a kid, and in the past few years, I have rediscovered how much fun it really is, and it is a big reason why I have gotten in much healthier shape. It is currently my favorite outdoor activity to take part in, and the list of beneficial aspects to biking is huge. So I decided to create this list of important reasons why you should consider biking:

I have to say, I have a hard time doing cardio inside of a gym. To me, it’s not very motivating to stare at a wall while running or cycling still. Biking was the perfect solution. It is much more entertaining to roam outside than it is to do cardio inside. Plus, biking doesn’t make you tired as quickly. This is because when you bike, you are not running against the clock. For example, when you do cardio on a stair master let’s say, you will always be tempted to look at how much time is left, because you are doing this activity for cardio. When I bike, I do it for a variety of reasons, which I will point out below, but cardio is just one of the perks, not the main reason why I do it. I don’t time myself when I bike, so the cardio I end up doing is longer, and provides better results. It really makes your cardio routine so much more enjoyable.

Health benefits
There are so many health benefits to biking, that I will probably miss naming out a few. If you want to improve your health, this is the one activity to do that can really transform you back into great shape. I speak from experience. I noticed vast differences in my energy and mood, as well as in my body shape after just a few weeks of biking. Here are some of the health benefits you are looking to gain by biking:

- reduces the cholesterol levels in the blood
- reduces the chances of strokes and heart attacks caused by clotting
- reduces the chances of illnesses caused by high blood pressure
- reduces the chances of diabetes
- helps you gain more energy
- makes you sleep better, helps cure insomnia
- strengthens your bones
- helps with coordination
- reduces the risk of cancer
- lowers your resting heart rate
- reduces body fat
- helps reduce stress & anxiety
- increases mental & emotional well being
- lengthens your life expectancy
- helps get you to your ideal body weight

Makes you drink more water
If you have trouble drinking those recommended glasses of water per day that we all know about, biking will solve that problem easily. I can drink the equivalent of 3-4 glasses of water per 1 hour bike ride. So going for a bike ride daily also provides me with the added benefits that drinking plenty of water has. It’s a win-win situation. Make sure to always carry water with you, as you can get tired much more easily if you are dehydrated. Drink water throughout your ride and you will have more energy and last longer.

Fresh air
Another reason why I prefer this than being indoors in a gym. You get to breathe more fresh air which makes you feel better and puts you in a better mood. If you are concerned about pollution in your city, you should be aware that you inhale more pollution driving a car than you do biking. Fresh air helps clean out your lungs, which helps you breathe deeper and this can result in increased energy and brings greater clarity to the brain. Your brain requires about 20% of the oxygen you breathe in, so the fresher it is (as compared to indoors air which can be full of dust), the better results you will get.

Helps find new places
I can’t tell you how many places I have found while biking, that I was never aware of when driving. Such parks, trails, and areas that you aren’t inclined to notice when you are in a car. These are places that you can go to for picnics, play other sports, read a book, etc. If you ever wondered what’s going on in your neighborhood, take a bike ride, and you will find so much more about where you live.

Meet new people
You will be surprised how many people are biking out there. I know I was in my region. It’s a great way to get to know people that live in your area and that are like-minded. If you are ever looking for a new way to meet people, this a great one, which is not awkward or uncomfortable. Plus you already have something in common to break the ice about.

Maybe I am in the minority here, but I find bikes more convenient than cars for short distances. I find that I have more ways to get somewhere via a bike. Plus, you are never stuck in a traffic jam. Did you know that 40% of trips are within 2 km of home? It would be much more efficient if you used a bike, which along with all other benefits listed in this post, makes it a clear winner for convenience overall in my book. Apparently, the bike is the most efficient form of transportation ever invented.

Saves money
Do I even have to mention the gas prices we have nowadays? With soaring prices that seem to never hit a plateau, and with hybrid cars still in the minority and still relatively more expensive, taking a bike for quick errands here and there within your neighborhood could literally save you hundreds of dollars per year. Think about the parking costs you can save up as well! These can add up enormously, and with the cost of filling up your car near or over $100, I think more people should look at biking, especially for quick trips to the store nearby and the likes.

Environmentally friendly
There are tons of benefits to the environment if you bike. For example, it reduces air pollution. Biking for 4 miles keeps about 15 pounds of pollutants out of the air we breathe. Bikes don’t drip brake fluid, transmission fluid or anti freeze, so there is less water pollution as well. Think about noise pollution! Bikes are quiet and non-obnoxious. Bikes cause less road wear, and thus help prevent the addition of more asphalt and concrete into the environment. If you truly care about your CO2 emissions and its effect on climate changes, taking your bike instead of your car, even for just a few instances, greatly helps in reducing the amount of pollution spread into the atmosphere. We can all do our little part into this global problem, and biking can helps us do just that ;)

Bringing More Joy Into Your Life


The other day I was having a conversation with a friend about how frequently I was biking. I take a bike ride almost every day (although this week has been really bad in terms of weather, and biking in the rain isn’t too fun!), and I have even written a post about 9 Great Reasons Why You Should Bike, that’s how much I believe in this activity.

But the fact that I bike daily wasn’t the point. It’s the response I got when I asked this friend if they biked. The answer I got was “oh I haven’t biked since I was a kid! I’m an adult now, so I don’t bike.” I was taken back a little bit by this response. One, because it made it seem like only kids bike, and that’s not the case at all. But two, it made me think about how many things or activities we stop doing because we “grow up”.

As we become adults, we tend to give up all the silly fun stuff we used to like, and put all our focus on serious, more or less boring matters. We focus on bills, on the mortgage, on getting insurance, on reading about all the serious negative news around the world. Needless to say, this isn’t fun at all.

Why do you think people reminisce about their youth with almost a tear in their eye? Because, back then, things were fun….and now, things just aren’t fun anymore. We’ve lost that edge that made us creative and joyful along the way. We stopped doing the things that made us happy.

In part, it’s because that’s what we think being an adult is all about. We’ve seen our parents as we were growing up…they didn’t have much fun! So right there, we associate being an adult with what we saw our parents do when we were growing up. As well, this is what we see all around us. All we see is adults just working themselves to the bone, doing nothing creative and/or fun, until they can retire 30-40 years later to then do absolutely nothing. No wonder life is labeled as boring.

You will rarely find a kid say that life is boring. This is because kids live in the present moment (you don’t see a 12 year old be all teary-eyed about wanting to be 8 again!) and they do what makes them feel good. As we got older, we’ve stopped doing just that. We’ve given up our creative side, for a more practical one. Problem is, practical equals boring.

The key to bringing more joy into your life as an adult, is to reconnect with your inner child. You need to do things that used to make you happy that you gave up a long time ago because you had to cross to the “other side” into adulthood. My friend had given up riding a bike because it wasn’t what an adult does. However, I can guarantee you that a few hours on a bike, and this person will be having the time of their life!

I had given up biking too as I got into college and then university. I rediscovered it a few years back, and I can honestly tell you that it has made my life much more joyful than before. When I bike, I lose myself completely into the activity. When I go, I do not bring all my “adult problems” with me. It’s just me and the wind. It’s liberating, and it brings me back to when I was a kid and I still feel the same way about it as I did 15 years ago. That’s the power of doing something you enjoy.

What activities have you given up as you got older? I am certain that you can list at least 5 things that you enjoyed to do as a kid that you no longer do. How about you take 1 hour per week (that’s 0.5% of your week, so no excuses about no time for it!) to do what you used to enjoy so much. If you used to dance, how about you enroll in some dance classes once per week? If you used to love video games, why don’t you get yourself a PS3 or a Wii and see if you still got your mad gaming skills?

You have no idea how this can seriously transform your habitual, boring existence, into a more enjoyable and fun one. We don’t have to always be serious as adults. Sure, there is a time and place for it. But that was the case growing up too. We had school, where we had to be serious, and then after school was done for the day, we would go and have fun, doing whatever made us feel good. Today, our day in school is now our work day. But once work is done, what are you doing to have more fun?

A happier life is all about doing what gets you all excited. So don’t stop with just that 1 hour per week. Every couple of weeks, add another activity that you gave up a long time ago to your schedule. Perhaps you used to play an instrument? Maybe you used to love swimming? Whatever it is, you can reconnect with the joy it used to bring you as a child and allow it to bring you this joy as an adult.

By the way, don’t waste a second on how others around you may perceive this. So what if they tell you it’s silly? They don’t get it. Let them revel in their own miserable & uninteresting lives. If you want to go outside and skateboard, do it! If you want to build a sand castle when you are at the beach, just do it! Seriously, this is your life. You have this one life. It is your duty to make it as fun and as enjoyable as you can, regardless of what others may think.

I know that creative inner child is somewhere inside of you. You’ve repressed it for so long, but it is key for you to let it resurface once again, if you ever want to experience a joyful existence. Getting older doesn’t have to be depressing and sad. Life isn’t depressing, you make it this way! Life is whatever you want it to be. Do something you enjoy and your life will be enjoyable. That’s the bottom line. Break down the barriers that you put around yourself because you became an adult. Allow that free, fun, and fearless side of you to come out!