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5 reasons to switch to pedal power

23/02/2011

Some of my favourite times of the day are the trip to work and the trip back. “In peak hour traffic? Surely not”, you say.  But my answer is still “Yes!”  That’s because I have found a way to avoid being stuck in a traffic jam, squished onto a crowded train or needing to allow extra time in the morning for the bus to turn up (after the first two buses didn’t show up).  For the last two or so years, I’ve chosen cycling as my preferred mode of transport to work.

Cycling to work (or uni, the shops or wherever you want to go) brings many benefits. Here’s my top five:

  • Avoid peak hour traffic.  Riding a push bike allows you a great sense of freedom.  Often, in peak times, you can move faster than the car traffic.  Not only that, for those who rely on public transport, riding a bike means the end of waiting for buses or trains that are late or don’t show up – no more timetables, you choose when to leave.  There are more cycle paths appearing all the time.  If you don’t have a safe route to ride to work you need to pressure your local council to provide one.
  • Get fit. Let’s face it, you have to make the trip to work anyway.  And lots of people I talk to say they don’t have time to exercise.  Why not kill ‘two birds with one stone’ and get your exercise on the way to and from work?  Cycling to work is an excellent way to get fit and healthy on a daily trip when you would have otherwise been sedentary.  Most cycle commuters will get their 30 minutes of daily exercise easily.  By switching to pedal power you will be burning around 300 calories for each 30 minutes you ride.
  • Save your hard-earned cash.  Fuel costs have escalated, car parking can be incredibly expensive and even the cost of public transport in Brisbane is on the rise.  A bike however, is a one-off investment (allow a minimum of $400 for a decent bike to get you around on a moderate commute).  Many workplaces now even offer facilities including showers so you can freshen up after your ride.  If yours doesn’t, end-of-trip cycling facilities such as King George Square Cycle Centre or Royal Brisbane Hospital Cycle Centre offer an alternative for less than the daily price of public transport.  Cycling to work may even allow you to cancel a costly gym membership.
  • Be happy.  We will never be short of studies that say exercise makes us happy.  Raising the heart rate, working up a sweat, breathing deeply and pumping the muscles aids the release of our body’s happy hormones, endorphins.  Not only that, exercise before work will wake you up and help your mind to be more alert for the day ahead.  Your ride home will give you an opportunity to forget the worries of the day so you are relaxed when you walk in your front door.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint.  For each kilometre you choose to cycle instead of drive a car you are reducing your CO2 emissions by approximately 0.3kg.

Obviously, cycling to work is not the answer for everyone.  However, many people do have a lot to gain by adopting this mode of transport.  It may take a little forward planning to find safe routes and organise clothing and toiletries to freshen up for your work day post-ride.  Once you have a system in place, the benefits of cycling will become crystal clear. And, if you can’t cycle to work, you can still jump on a bike on the weekend for a social ride.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

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