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5 Reasons Why You Should Get on Your Bike

Updated on September 29, 2015

A humble yet awesome machine

If you research the history of the bicycle it is something that has been around in something like its current format in the UK since 1871, when John Kemp Starley began marketing a safety bike. Prior to that there had been some Velocipedes, which bore some resemblance to modern day bikes and of course prior to that there was the Penny Farthing. If you are interested in the history of cycling you can read more here

In recent years the popularity of cycling has increased somewhat following the 2012 Olympics and a growing understanding that it is a cheap easy form of transport that holds many benefits

It's great exercise

People who cycle regularly can apparently have fitness levels of someone ten years younger. and it is good for the heart because it makes it 'work' in a steady regular way so there can be an overall improvement in cardiovascular fitness. In addition it is also good for building stamina and muscle tone. Like any exercise it burns calories and so is good in terms of maintaining or losing weight.

But the advantage of cycling over some other activities like running is that is is kinder on the joints, in fact in some areas cycling is being 'prescribed' to help keep joints healthy and prevent the onset of conditions such as arthritis.

Cycling is also great because it's something you can do alone, most people can ride a bike so no particular training is needed, providing you have a bike then it's free to exercise.

It's a great mode of transport

Unlike a lot of exercise the time used cycling can actually be part of your.daily commute. That is important as many people say they can't find time to exercise but if it is how you travel to work, or visit friends or shop then it is part of your daily routine and so doesn't need to be fitted in.

As modes of transport go it is fairly inexpensive too - no road tax or petrol, not even car park fees. And although a bike is generally a lot slower than a car and for most of us only really appropriate for relatively short journeys (5- 10 miles) during rush hours a bike can actually be as fast if not faster than using a car.

With a bike there are no nasty emissions which is why many cities now operate schemes where people can borrow bikes to get around and why many councils are spending money improving cycle lanes. So when you cycle it can be great to know that you are also not damaging the environment.

It reduces stress

Not only is cycling great exercise and therefore good for your body but there is also evidence that it reduces stress and is therefore good for you mentally and emotionally as well.

As it is a solitary (usually) exercise it can be great for 'clearing the mind' helping you to let go of the stresses of the day, it will usually take you outside and being outdoors is another thing that can lower stress, especially if you are cycling through parks, on cycle tracks or in country areas.

Over recent months I would cycle regularly to catch a train and the journey through the park in the morning was lovely. I saw the tiny ducklings and signets then as the weeks went by watched them grow. Nature can help reduce stress and cycling will get you closer to nature.

It's safe

When I talk to people about cycling it seems there is a perception that it is dangerous but the perception doesn't match with the statistics. The National Travel Survey 2012 reported just 1 injury for 19 230 hours of cycling

Of course people are injured, indeed some people are killed, and everyone needs to work to make cycling safer but any activity involves a degree of risk. Did you know that 300 000 people are hospitalised each year in the UK because of injuries sustained when gardening?

It's great for families

One of the other great advantages of cycling is that it's something that you can do with all the family. Young children who can't ride alone can sit in one of the many different types of seats available or even in the 'tow' type children seats. There are loads available so whatever the budget there will be something to suit both your needs and your pocket.

In a society with a increasing problem of childhood obesity getting children to exercise in a fun way and role modelling that is very important.

We have had many fun times with both children and grandchildren going for cycle rides and honestly they have always loved it whether they were sat in a child seat or riding on their own. Cycling is something that really helps children feel and be independent.

So what's stopping you?

Lots of people cycle regularly and swear by it - the numbers who cycle regularly are increasing so what is stopping you?

You know it would be good for you, it's not so expensive to start (true you can spend thousands of pounds but you can also get a new bike for £100 and a second hand one for much less. If you want you can spend a lot of money of various 'gadgets and gizmos' which is actually what attracts some folks to it, but it is certainly not essential to spend very much at all.

Like lots of things that are good for you it might be hard at first BUT once you get on your bike it doesn't take long before you start to feel good. Like anything, if you want the benefits you have to put the effort in first.

I think most adults in the UK would be able to ride a bike but if you lack confidence many places run short courses to help people. If you are new to an area, or new to cycling in an area then often local authorities and cycling groups will produce maps that show cycle routes and its well worth getting hold of these, you can often can often get them from a library.

It can be a danger if you want to cycle that you put yourself off the first time you go out. Make sure for the first time that you don't go to far and unless you have invested in, and are wearing, appropriate clothing you pick a time to do it when the weather is not inclement.

Whatever your reasons for not doing it are, and of course there will be some very good reasons why some people, there will probably be a way round it if you have the inclination and determination.


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