Cycling burns approximately 300 calories in an hour—that’s equivalent to a bar of chocolate. No wonder it is an excellent way to lose that excess flab. Add to that the convenience, economy and eco-friendliness, and cycling tops among options of commuting to work. A 15-minute bike ride to-and-from work, five times a week can help you burn off five kg of fat in a year. This kind of cycling pattern also meets the recommended exercise target of participating in some mild-to-moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes, five times a week.
Most of us aced the wheels when we were kids. So it’s just tapping into our long-term memory. However, if you are a first timer, there’s nothing to worry—learning to cycle is no rocket science.
Why should you cycle to work?
- Improves your health
- A step [pedal] closer to a greener, cleaner Earth
- Keeps your money in your pocket
- Saves you the agony of traffic
- Old and young, everyone can ride one.
A few tips for making cycling your mode of commute
- Buy a bike which has a basket or a rear rack
- Keep your bike clean, always
- Get the tires, the chain etc. checked regularly
- Always ride in comfortable and bike appropriate clothes and footwear
- Carry a small bag with a change of clothes. And roll your clothes instead of folding them, this will prevent them from creasing. You can keep some essentials such as a hand towel, wet wipes and a face wash in your office drawer itself so you don’t have to carry them everyday.
- Look for a place nearby if you can’t change at your office
- Wear a helmet at all times
- Work out a proper route prior
- Strategise your clean up time beforehand
- Your cycle should have lights and reflectors if you are riding during the evening
- Keep yourself hydrated with a carry-on bottle.
Bring on the excuses
“I can’t reach work looking like I’ve been hit by a hurricane”
Nice one! But you can always freshen up and change your clothes after reaching office. Besides, think about how many people you’ll be inspiring and what a trendsetter you’ll become—the improvement in your health quotient is an added bonus. The changing and freshening up won’t take you more than 10 minutes. You will have to reach office a little earlier than usual—a small price to pay for so many benefits.
- Follow the traffic rules, highway code
- Keep a watch of your surroundings [potholes, open drains, etc.]
- Use arm signals.
- Use mobile phones, headphones
- Carry anything in your pockets
- Drive on the pavement unless you are allowed to.
“Isn’t cycling in rush hours risky?”
Yes. However, it is possible to get around traffic. Using a cycle allows you to drive through shortcuts, which are not available to cars and heavy vehicles. If you can’t miss the traffic zones, you can go slow and even get off and walk along side your cycle for the first few times, until you gain the confidence. With time, your fears will subside and you will breeze through the traffic.
“My office is far! It will take me a lot of time!”
If you feel your office is too far, then find a way to carry your cycle in the car. Park your car 15 – 20 cycling minutes away from work and switch to your cycle after that. If you feel your car is small and your bike won’t fit in, you can get a bike holder fixed behind your car to carry your bike on it.
“What if it starts raining?”
It’s the 21st century. You can carry a water proof bag, which has all your work clothes; you can wear raincoats and windcheaters. Make sure your bike is suitable for slippery roads during the rains. Of course, on days when it pours heavily, you can skip your cycle ride.
“I think I am too old to ride a cycle. What if other people make fun of me?”
If you don’t cycle due to fear of ridicule, think again. Cycling does not have an age limit. In fact, cycling allows you to bond with people of various age groups.
“There are no cyclists in my locality.”
Then take the initiative of being the first one. “You must be the change you want to see in the world,” said Mahatma Gandhi. Take the plunge, inspire others and see how many will follow your lead.
Let your new resolution be “Cycling everyday, helps me in different ways.” Whoever said you have to wait till the New Year to make a positive change? You can start now.
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