Occasional Cyclist, Full Time Cycling Evangelist. Digital Leader Cycling
You will be surprised to know how cycling can change our lives. From an urban Indian perspective, we have listed down the benefits of cycling under four sections - physical health, mental health, environmental benefits, and camaraderie.
Physical inactivity is the single biggest reason for all lifestyle diseases. 8 to 10 hours of sitting at the desk with too much screen time, on and off work has made us lazy and physically inactive. We don't get enough exercise and our food habits are unhealthy. This has made Urban Indians, the most vulnerable population in the world with diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke.
Regular cycling as a sports practice is an effective activity to combat and effectively immunize the general office going urban population from these life-threatening lifestyle diseases.
Cycling is a non-impact cardiovascular exercise which helps build muscular structure while targeting cardiovascular endurance. This will lead to lowered blood sugar levels, a significant drop in cholesterol levels and controlled blood pressure.
Cycling is also one of the most effective exercises for weight loss. A simple Google image search of cycling + weight loss showcases hundreds of before and after images of individuals who have lost weight, thanks to regular cycling.
A 10 km bicycle ride helps burn around 300 calories which is the same as running on a treadmill at 8 km/h for 30 minutes. So if an individual were to ride to work and back which is 10 kilometers away (20 km round trip), he/she would be burning more than 600 calories a day equal to spending an hour at the gym; all the while saving time and money. Finding time for exercise is the biggest hurdle for most of us. By taking the bicycle route, we get to reap double benefits of getting adequate exercise while commuting.
The more you ride, the stronger your muscles become. Intensive cycling uses your entire body: abs, lumbar muscles, glutes, pecs, arms, and all muscle groups in your legs. Looking after the muscles that hold your body up helps maintain good posture and slows down the physical decline linked to ageing.
Cycling also strengthens your bones. When done regularly, bone growth is stimulated and the skeleton becomes more solid, which prevents the risk of osteoporosis without causing injury.
Be More Productive – Mental Health Benefits of Cycling
Cycling like any other exercise helps us to be in a good mood and helps tackle stress and depression. Intensive cycling helps the brain to secrete the feel-good chemicals of Serotonin and Dopamine.
While Serotonin primarily uplifts the mood and gives a feeling of happiness, Dopamine helps with feeling motivated and to be more productive while boosting memory.
Cycling to work daily or starting the day with a vigorous cycling exercise helps an individual to be more productive at work while being more positive and in a joyous mood.
Reduce Carbon Footprint – Environmental Benefits of Cycling
As we all know, cycling is good for the environment. Driving a single occupancy car emits approximately 271 g of CO2 per passenger km while riding a non-pillion-rider motorcycle emits approximately 120 g of CO2 per passenger km. Public transport systems like buses or metro bring down the carbon footprint to approximately 20 g of CO2 per passenger km.
Cycling is the only mode of urban transportation which has a zero carbon footprint.
Data from an app-based taxi aggregator in 2017 on the traffic and average speed in Bengaluru saw traffic moving at the slowest speed of 17.2 km/h. This is a drop from 20.4 km/h in 2016.
Ask any occasional commuter cyclist around the world, and they will reckon that their average speed is 20 km/h. Regular commuter cyclists can have average speeds of 25 km/h or higher.
In addition to the carbon footprint, cycles also take less space per passenger occupant. An average single occupancy hatchback car in India occupies around 6 square meters (m2) while a cyclist occupies only 1.5 square meters (m2). Imagine declogging Indian city roads if all office goers living within 10 kilometers from their office start commuting on cycles.
Meet New People – Fraternity and Camaraderie
Cycling is a great networking activity. In the past decade, India has seen a huge emergence of cycling clubs or groups. These communities usually consist of cyclists at different levels of expertise (novice or beginner cyclists, intermediate or occasional cyclists & the expert or regular cyclists).
It’s almost always the community that encourages and helps the beginner cyclist to be a regular or expert cyclist. During this transformation, the individual doesn’t just improve his overall health and skill sets as a cyclist, but more importantly develops lifelong friendships with his/her fellow community cyclists.
Most of us who have cycled, see or reminisce cycling as one of the purer joys of our lives. For many of us, cycling was one of the first occasions in our childhood where we had experienced pure freedom and wanderlust.