The health benefits of cycling to work

The cycling revolution is having a positive effect on women’s health, whilst the male to female ratio of cycle commuters remains at 2:1, women who have taken up a two wheel commute are seeing a snowball effect on their health.

The new Cycling 10:10 report, to mark a decade since Cyclescheme’s launch in 2005, has been built in collaboration with British Cycling, Sustrans, the Dutch Embassy, Danish Cycling Federation, Brompton Bicycle, Cyclechic, Institute of Leadership and Management and BMI Healthcare, to reflect Cyclescheme’s call for a collaborative approach to cycling to work to increase participation to more than 1.2 million cyclists in the next decade and to double the number of women commuting by bike.

The study of 2,500 female cyclists reveals this surge in active commuting is having a much greater impact on the nation’s health than previously thought, resulting in a snowball effect on women’s eating habits, alcohol consumption and tobacco intake.

In fact, four in 10 women that cycle to work note lower stress levels since taking up the active commute, a third say they are ill less frequently and 49% have noticed improvements to their mental health.

Mr Grey Giddins, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at BMI Bath Clinic says those who commute on a bike are less likely to smoke and drink heavily. They're also less likely to become ill and altogether this impacts our health overall.

He continues by saying that by cycling to work we'll not only have a healthier population, but it will also improve the economy too because workers will take fewer sick days and see an increase in their productivity.

cycling to work

Overcoming the barriers

Whilst the women’s cycling movement is growing in terms of reputation with seven in 10 working women agree cycling to work has become increasingly fashionable over recent years, there are still some personal barriers to overcome. For example, a third of women are too self-conscious to get on a bike, either because they think people will laugh at them, they feel too unfit or they don’t think it’s cool.

Caz Nicklin, Director of CycleChic says that the image of cycling has changed dramatically in the last eight years, which has seen more women cycling. No longer is it seen as geeky and safety has also been put to the forefront.

So will you be making the healthy change and getting on your bike to work instead? Here’s why you should:

Five ways cycling to work can boost your health

Increases brains, not just brawn

Cycling is a great exercise that targets the main muscle groups in the legs, like the quads and hamstrings, but it can also flex your brain.  Exercise boosts the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic fact (BDNF) chemicals in your brain which helps promote the growth and survival of brain cells as well as communication between them. A study showed that rats who had physical exercise performed better in underwater mazes than those who had not.

Bones need to be active

Keeping your skeleton active has been found to reduce fractures. When muscles are under strain, they tear and repair in order to grow, but it’s been noted that when your bones are stimulated they react similarly by maintaining or growing new tissue. Scientists are still unsure why this happens, but one thing they are certain of is that if you don’t exercise; your bones are at a greater risk of fracture.

Glowing skin

The increased blood flow from exercise helps nourish your largest organ, skin. Blood helps carry nutrients around the body and also helps flush out waste products, so the harder your heart works to pump blood around when you cycle, the more efficiently it flushes cellular debris out of your system.

glowing skin

Get glowing skin when you cycle to work

Eat right

The ongoing debate of whether to eat right or exercise to lose weight goes on, but many believe a combination of both is needed.  But which do you start with? Research suggests that exercise affects our inhibitory control which can work in our favour and help us resist temptation. A study from Cyclescheme shows that 48% of people who cycle to work have begun eating healthier as a result of their active commute, suggesting that they don’t want to ruin their ‘good behaviour’ with indulgence and countering their exercise.

Less desire to drink

According to a report out this week from Cyclescheme, three in 10 cycle commuters drink less since taking up an active commute, and it’s thought that the buzz from their exercise leads to a lacked craving for a drink. The brain is stimulated during exercise, and add that to the burning of energy when you get home, it leads to you feeling content at night without the desire to have a drink to settle down.

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