May is bike month! Pick up a bike and ride your way to a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
Take the #Bikechallenge2015 by substituting your car commute by a bike ride (and share your photos on our brand new Instagram account at @worldwatchinstitute with the hashtag #bikechallenge2015). With all of the benefits of biking, it’s no wonder that many people are turning to this easy lifestyle change.
Here are 10 reasons why you should pick up a bike and start riding.
1 – Get healthy!
We all know that biking is a healthy choice, but did you know that studies have shown that riding can extend your life? Public health authorities in several countries recommend half an hour of moderate physical activity five days per week, a regimen that perfectly describes a common bicycle commute in many cities. Health benefits of riding include increased cardio-vascular fitness, increased muscle strength, improved joint mobility, and better posture. According to a recent study done by the Journal of American Medical Association, biking may also reduce the risk of cancer.
The Next Step: Use Bicycling.com’s nifty free calculator to figure out how many calories you burn on your ride!
2 – Save money!
Whether you are riding the metro or commuting by car, biking will be cheaper! So rather than spend your money on costly modes of transportation, pick up a bike. Not only will you save money on transportation costs, you’ll also cut health care costs.
The Next Step: Curious about how much your commute is costing you in dollars or carbon? Take a look at Stanford University’s commuting cost caclulator.
3 – Improve the environment!
Rather than damage your neighborhood with air and noise pollution, choose to bike. American cars emit nearly a pound of carbon dioxide per mile driven, while a bicycle itself emits nothing, making it an obvious technology for reducing greenhouse gases and other pollutants. In the US, air pollution kills as many as 50,000 people each year and costs as much as $40 billion dollars a year in health care and loss of productivity.
The Next Step: Compare your biking and driving impacts using Arlington’s Car Free Diet Calculator.
4 – Make your community safer!
Deciding to ride a bike can help your community beyond reducing pollution. Cyclists actually help to make city streets safer. According to the Alliance for Biking and Walking’s 2014 report, there are lower bicyclist and pedestrian fatality rates where there are more people biking and walking.
The Next Step: Learn and model safe bicycle ridership by following The League of American Bicyclists’ 5 easy safety tips.
5 – Get more energy!
Feeling fatigued? Exercise can increase your energy level! A study published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found that riding a bike actually lessened feelings of fatigue by 65% and boosted energy levels by 20%.
The Next Step: Ready to get energized? Find some bikeable trails near you using Rail-to-Tails’ TrailLink tool.
6 – Have glowing skin!
According to a study done by Stanford University, cycling “increases circulation, delivering oxygen and nutrients to skin cells more effectively, while flushing harmful toxins out. Exercise also optimizes collagen production, helping reduce the appearance of wrinkles and speed up the healing process.”
The Next Step: Grab some sunscreen before your next ride to make sure you get the best for your skin.
7 – Feel smarter!
Did you know that biking can get you better grades on tests? Researchers from Illinois University found that participants performed 15 percent better on mental tests after improving their cardio by biking.
The Next Step: Keep your smarts by keeping your brain safe with a helmet. Learn how to fit your helmet using the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration’s guide [PDF].
8 – Be happier!
We all get a down sometimes, but rather than sit inside and sulk, get on a bike and ride away the blues. Biking is associated with being happier compared to other forms of commuting. Outdoor exercise will also boost your confidence and self-esteem.
The Next Step: Need some confidence starting blocks? Read these tips for beginners by SheKnows, including how to choose a bike.
9 – Meet new people!
Whether it is a cycling group or a daily commute, the slower lifestyle lets you meet your neighbors and is a great way to get to know others. Cities are also providing better bike lanes to make them more attractive to cyclists, helping to increase the biking community. This means more new friends in the bike lanes!
The Next Step: Let your new friends know where to join you on your ride using new apps, like RoadID.
10 – Sleep better!
After reading this list, you can rest easy after a bike ride knowing you’re making a positive impact. Plus, Stanford University School of Medicine researchers found that cycling for 20-30 minutes daily helped people with sedentary insomnia fall asleep twice as fast, and increased their time sleeping by nearly an hour.
Take the leap!
May is Bike Month and there are many reasons to partake in this yearly ritual—biking has many environmental and personal benefits. Show us that you have chosen to bike by posting a picture of you and your bike on our new Instagram @worldwatchinstitute with the hashtag #bikechallenge2015.
Gigi Singh is an intern in the Worldwatch Institute’s communication department. She is currently a student at American University studying International Media.