HEALTH AND FITNESS: Go ride your bike | Features – Aiken Standard

Posted: May 15, 2020 at 9:43 am


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This is a great time to go for a bike ride. Aside from being a great way to get around, bicycling can improve physical, mental and social health and has environmental and economic benefits.

Going for a bike ride is a good way to meet physical activity goals. For most people, bicycling would help meet the minimum recommendation of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per day. At faster speeds, cycling is an excellent exercise to improve fitness.

For kids, riding a bike is a fun way to be active and teaches important movement skills like coordination and balance. Not only is bicycling a great way to be active, it can be a form of independent transportation for children before they can drive.

Riding outdoors can promote enhanced feelings of energy and diminished fatigue, anxiety, anger and sadness compared to similar activity conducted indoors. Additionally, some research suggests that outdoor activity, including bicycling, may improve attention, learning and productivity in adults and children.

Bicycling is often done with others, whether that is a family bike ride or training with a cycling group. This strengthens social connections and allows people to share in the enjoyment of being active. Even if you ride alone, you are far less isolated from other people and your environment compared to driving a car. These connections to the community are an important part of health and happiness.

Replacing car trips with cycling is good for the environment, too. Every mile you drive releases carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the environment. Additionally, spending more time sitting in your car can also have negative effects on your mental and physical health. Biking has no such effects on the environment and has important health benefits including improved fitness, weight control and greater feelings of wellbeing.

As an added bonus, driving less will mean using less gas. Even though gas prices are lower now than in recent years, every mile you dont drive saves money. Plus, it costs far less to purchase and maintain a bike than it does a car, so it makes economic sense to ride your bike instead of drive when possible. Most people commute less than five miles to work and nearly half of all car trips are less than two miles. Both are reasonable distances to bike. Even if you have longer distances to travel, you could probably replace some car trips with active transportation.

Obviously, biking everywhere isnt practical. It requires access to safe bike lanes and sidewalks that connect peoples homes to work, school and other destinations. Sadly, this infrastructure doesnt exist in most communities, which were built to support cars, not people. Whether or not we bike for exercise or transportation ourselves, we should all act as advocates for changes in the community that will make active transportation more realistic for everyone.

Something as simple as a family bike ride around the neighborhood or cycling for fitness can have important health, environmental and economic benefits. Whenever and wherever you ride, keep in mind that common sense says you should always obey all traffic laws and wear a helmet.

Finally, if you havent been out on two wheels for some time, dont worry its just like riding a bike!

Brian Parr, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Exercise and Sports Science at USC Aiken where he teaches courses in exercise physiology, nutrition and health behavior. You can learn more about this and other health and fitness topics at http://drparrsays.com or on Twitter @drparrsays.

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HEALTH AND FITNESS: Go ride your bike | Features - Aiken Standard

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May 15th, 2020 at 9:43 am

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