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Bike Wise: The Health Benefits

Not just great for the environment, cycling is also a fun, simple and effective form of exercise that can help get you in great shape. And with Bije Wise month upon us, there's no better time to hop on your bike.

Bike Wise: The Health Benefits

Cycling is a fun, simple and effective form of exercise that can help get you in great shape. To encourage more people to take up cycling in order to improve their health and that of their family’s, a series of fun, cycling events will be held throughout February 2013 as part of Bike Wise Month. For more information on the Bike Wise activities happening in your area as well as cycle routes, bikes and more, visit www.bikewise.co.nz.

Here are some of the multiple health benefits that can be achieved from even just a few minutes cycling a day:

Weight Loss

– A 30-minute bike ride at moderate intensity burns approximately 1255 kilojoules (Livestrong.com, 2012) – that’s the equivalent of a regular sized chocolate bar! Do that daily and you will meet the average adult’s recommended daily exercise requirement 

– According to the World Health Organisation, just 30 minutes of cycling each day can be all the exercise you need to halve your chances of becoming obese or diabetic. And you don’t have to do it all at once – bike for 15 minutes to work in the morning and 15 minutes home in the evening.

Exercise Your Lungs and Your Legs

Because your lungs work harder when you’re cycling, regular cycling will help strengthen your cardiovascular system over time, enabling your heart and lungs to work more efficiently and get more oxygen when it’s needed. This means that when you exercise regularly, it gets easier.

Well-being and Productivity

– According to research from the University of North Carolina, people who cycle for 30 minutes, five days a week take half as many sick days as those who don’t exercise

– Get on your bike and your boss will love you. A study carried out by the University of Bristol found that employees who exercised before work or at lunchtime improved their time and workload management, and it boosted their motivation and ability to deal with stress.

Brighten Your Mood

– Cranking through the kilometres will lift your spirits! Those who exercise regularly are more likely to be happier and satisfied with their life than those who don’t exercise, according to a study undertaken at Vrije University in Amsterdam (Preventive Medicine, 2007)

– Mild to moderate exercise releases natural, ‘feel-good’ endorphins, which help counter stress and make you feel happy, explains Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation in the UK. “Just three 30 minute sessions a week can be enough to give people the lift they need,” he says. 

Better Brain Power

– Cycling is good for your brain as well as your body. Research shows that aerobic activity, such as cycling, grows new brain cells (neurons) in the hippocampus – the part of the brain responsible for memory (University of California, 2001). 

– Activities that require balance, quick reactions and decision making skills – like cycling – have been found to best control ADHD in children and help adults with focus and concentration (Vanderbilt University, 2007).

Wake Up!

It sounds counter-intuitive, but if you’re feeling tired go for a ride. Physical activity for even a few minutes is a surprisingly effective wake-up call, according to Dr Mark Rosekind, former chief scientist at Alertness Solutions. 

Youth

Now is a great time to get kids into fun, healthy habits that could last a lifetime. A 2007 survey by the University of Auckland showed that one third of secondary school students are overweight or obese and only 11% of students meet the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity daily (Adolescent Health Research Group, 2008). 

Improve Performance at Work and School

– By commuting to work or school by bike, you’ll not only arrive feeling relaxed after avoiding heavy traffic, you will also arrive feeling awake and alert having stimulated your blood flow

– Exercise has been proven to boost problem-solving abilities as it increases blood and oxygen flow to the head.  There is a reason we go outside and walk, run or ride to ‘clear our head’. In fact, often the best thing you can do to solve a tricky problem at work is head out for a ride.

Women’s Health

– Cycling is a great way to burn calories and look great. You will tone your leg and butt muscles while also calling on the muscles in your back, arms and neck. It also works the postural muscles in the lower and mid abdomen

– Cycling is not only a great way of working those muscles and burning fat, it can be a great social sport too. Grab a couple of friends and head to a biking trail near you – there are plenty of great rides throughout New Zealand

– Women have a higher prevalence of arthritis and osteoporosis than men (Statistics New Zealand, 2005) so cycling is an ideal form of low-impact exercise that keeps bones healthy while being easy on the joints

Men’s Health

– Cycling is a great way to participate in group activity while increasing your health and fitness. There are a number of statistics that link improvements in men’s health to support networks, both in health or otherwise

– Research also emphasises the importance of dads being good role models – this is an obvious reason to stay active and ride with your kids

– Only half of all adults (50.5%) meet the definition of being regularly physically active (Ministry of Health 2006/2007). By incorporating cycling into your daily routine it becomes easy to reach the recommended 30 minutes a day.

Bike Wise Events

Big Bike Tune Ups, November 2012 – February 2013

– To ensure bikes are safe, road-worthy and are a good fit for the cyclist, a series of Big Bike Tune Ups will be held throughout the country over spring and summer. People are encouraged to bring their bikes along to a local Big Bike Tune Up where a free maintenance check will be given. See http://www.bikewise.co.nz/events for a list of Big Bike Tune Ups.

Bike Wise Month, February 2013

– A number of fun cycling events will take place throughout the country during Bike Wise Month, to expose Kiwis to the enjoyment of cycling. Events include recreational rides, bike festivals and family fun rides. See www.bikewise.co.nz/events for a full list of events. 

Go By Bike Day, 13 February 2013

The key event during Bike Wise Month, Go By Bike Day is a day on which people are encouraged to leave the car at home and cycle to work or school. See www.bikewise.co.nz/events for a full list of events.

For more information on the Bike Wise programme, activities happening in your area, cycle routes, bikes and more, visit the Bike Wise website www.bikewise.co.nz.

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