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Sunday, May 11, 2014

7 Reasons to Go Biking

Last weekend I participated in New York City's 40-mile Five Boro Bike Tour. We started in lower Manhattan, cycled up through midtown, Central Park, and Harlem, into the Bronx, south along the East River, over the Queensboro Bridge into Queens, through Brooklyn, and over the Verrazano Bridge into Staten Island. It was a great opportunity to see my city from a new perspective and connect with other people who love biking as much as I do.

What do I love about it?

Like other forms of exercise, cycling can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type two diabetes, and cancer.

It can lower high blood pressure and resting heart rate, promote weight loss in people who are overweight, strengthen the immune system, manage stress, improve mood and sleep, and support detoxification.

Regular exercise has also been shown to enhance sexual health. It reduces the risk of impotence in men and in pregnant women it's been associated with easier, less complicated labor and faster recovery after childbirth.

On top of all that, bicycling has other benefits. Here are seven reasons I ride:

#1  It's fun.
Biking sparks my sense of adventure and allows me to explore places I've never been.

#2  It feels good.
I love the wind in my hair and the exhilaration of coasting downhill.

#3  I enjoy the scenery. 
Unlike exercising inside a gym, cycling in the great outdoors allows me to enjoy my surroundings. It's always interesting, whether I'm riding through the city streets or out of town cruising through wide open spaces.

#4  I get my daily dose of sunshine.
Exposure to sunlight increases the natural production of vitamin D as well as serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep, mood, attention, energy, appetite, and food cravings. (Just be sure to avoid midday sun and intense or excessive sun exposure, even if you use sunscreen. It prevents sunburn but not skin damage and studies show that it doesn’t reduce the risk of skin cancer after all.)

#5  It's low impact.
Compared to high impact exercises like running, low impact exercises like biking cause less wear and tear on joints. There's also less chance of injury.

#6  It's a form of pollution-free transport.
Biking isn't just good for you, it can get you where you need to go. Using active forms of transport like biking means spending less sedentary time sitting in cars, buses, and trains. Like other forms of transport, safety is important, so always wear a helmet. The New York City Department of Transportation fits and gives away free bicycle helmets at events throughout the city. For more information, visit their website or call 311. (Learn more about bicycle safety here.)

#7  Biking has it all.
Some exercises improve cardiovascular fitness and respiratory fitness. Others enhance stamina, muscle strength, balance, or coordination. Biking improves them all.

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