physio

Why I Ride All Year Long: Four Research-Supported Reasons to Ride Your Bike.


I started bike-commuting to work years ago – I was at a new job, in a new city, looking to stay fit and make friends. Within the rehab department, several of us started riding to and from work together, nearly 20 km each way. The connections I made with that group of physical and occupational therapists have lasted 15 years already, and I still count some of them among my closest friends.

There are countless reasons to ride and great research to support them.

Here are my top four:

1.) Opportunity for Social Connection:

According to a study by Feighan and Roberts(3), the aspects that cyclists value most about their activity include altered mind-set, emotions, contribution towards identity and connection with others. Cycling can be a time to socialize (think, long group rides on Sunday mornings) or an opportunity for “me-time” where one can think through problems and come up with fresh perspectives.

2. ) Health and Wellness Benefits:

Health benefits are substantial – cyclists (and other physically active people) have a decreased risk of cancer and heart disease as well as increased lung function and quality of sleep (2). Physically active people also score 32% higher on well-being measures than their inactive counterparts, and in terms of weight management, a cyclist can burn between 400-1000 kcal per hour, depending on their size and the intensity of their ride (2). Interestingly, a very recent article published in Neurology Today claims that one of the most effective ways to treat and prevent dementia and Parkinson’s disease is through vigorous exercise (4).

3.) Increased Productivity and Ability to Focus:

Another aspect of cycling I appreciate is feeling clear-headed when I arrive at work. A study published in the Journal of Occupational Health (1) reports that cycling to work does indeed increase productivity and focus. Vairo, Bopp & Sims (5) studied best practices for businesses to promote cycling to work and determined that creating a culture for cycling, providing adequate bike parking/maintenance facilities, investing in education and providing financial or group-based incentives (such as competitions that promote cycling) were key in supporting employees to incorporate cycling into their daily commute.

4. ) Financial Savings:

Finally, there can be a significant cost savings. When I compare the annual costs of my current bike commute of 7km each direction (bike maintenance, new tubes, wet-weather gear) to taking the bus, or driving and parking downtown, I come out ahead by a large margin.

Are you interested in adding more cycling to your life? All of our physiotherapists have cycling experience, from Ironman triathlon to Gran Fondo events and would be pleased to help you meet your cycling goals. From helping you prepare for an injury-free racing season to finally dealing with that stubborn injury that hasn’t gone away, our therapists can help you create a stronger foundation that will have you riding pain-free and performance-ready.

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REFERENCES: 

  1. Cycling to work helps productivity and focus. Occupational Health. 2014; 66(10): 7-7.
  2. Dover, L. How to Integrate Cycling into your Everyday Life. Positive Health. 2018;250.
  3. Feighan, M. & Roberts, A. The value of cycling as a meaningful and therapeutic occupation. British Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2017; 80(5): 319-326.
  4. Shaw, G. In the Early Morning Hours, This Neuromuscular and Autonomic Disorders Specialist Leads the Charge for Fitness and Well Being as a Spin Cycling Teacher. Neurology Today. 2019;19(1):34-35.
  5. Vairo, N., Bopp, M. & Sims, D. Best practices for businesses promoting bicycling. International Journal of Health Promotion & Education. 2017;55(5/6): 298-310.