Today, June 3rd is the United Nations World Bicycle Day. Being an extremely passionate cyclist, I decided to write a blog post to share, not only the benefits that riding a bike has brought to my life, but the positive impact it can have on the world.
You get friends: More often than not, people who ride bikes are extremely open and welcoming because well, we want you to be as excited about bikes as we are! In my case, I arrived in Gainesville in the middle of the pandemic (i.e.: no parties, events, concerts, or anything). I left my friends, family, and life in my home country, and besides my classmates, I did not know anyone else in town. I joined both the cycling and triathlon clubs, started riding with them, and now, many of their members are some of my closest friends!
You get fit: Have you ever had to run to an exam, up a flight of stairs for an appointment that you are late for, or even just to catch the bus, and not even one minute in, you are already exhausted? I think that could be true for many people that do not exercise regularly. And the truth is, that modern life is designed to be so comfortable right now, that 90% of the time you do not really need to have high levels of fitness until you do. This is where riding a bike kicks in. All those little tests that life puts on your way get a bit easier, you will feel stronger, and you will have more energy.
It gives you discipline: Many of the good things in life require time and dedication. The good thing about riding a bike is that you can be disciplined while enjoying a sunrise, a sunset, good views, and fresh air. After a while of cycling regularly, you start to find time in your week to do it, and it ends up becoming a part of your routine. The interesting thing about this, is that the newly acquired discipline translates to other aspects of your life, and before you know it, you will find yourself being more organized and time conscious about everything.
It improves your health, a lot: I think it is no secret that we as humans are becoming unhealthier. The prevalence of diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary disease, cancer, and many other chronic conditions are rapidly rising around the world which is, not only causing an enormous health burden, but also significant financial losses for both patients and governments. Just by riding your bike more often you can considerably reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases in the future (click on the link for a very thorough explanation). It is also incredibly rewarding to go to the doctor and hear: “wow! your blood pressure is amazing!”, “why is your heart rate so low?” (As you get fitter, your heart becomes really efficient at pumping blood, so you do not need as many heartbeats to move blood through your body).
This is especially important as you get older, the better your body works, the less you will suffer from other health conditions, saving you many worries and bills!
Fight climate change: As an international student, one of the first purchases you make is a bicycle to move around town. As you start getting familiar with it, you realize the HUGE number of cars moving every day, in a town that is really not that big. That is a lot of emissions that could easily be avoided. By riding your bike, you are producing zero emissions, completely avoiding the oh-so-horrible city traffic, and helping the world to fight the pressing climate change challenge.
Fun fact: As humans, we have an approximate “gas mileage” of 290 MPG.
Improve your mental health: If you are a student, or have a stressful job, going for a bike ride, even just to return home from work, can provide you with a much-needed mental break; the longer the ride the better. Indeed, as many endurance athletes confirm, during aerobic activity people experience an “exercise high”, which is just a way to say that your body is producing a burst of feel-good hormones (some say they are endorphins, some say they are endocannabinoids). This will help you manage the stress and feel better and ready to tackle the next day’s challenges!
These are just some of the many many benefits of cycling. So, if you want to experience them, just put your helmet on, some sunscreen, and go and celebrate World Bicycle Day by riding your bike!
By: Alejandro Sanchez | Communications and Engagement Specialist
Are you at UF, and want to know more? Check these links, they helped me a lot!