This year’s Bike to Work and School Week runs from Monday, May 28 to Sunday, June 3. Think riding bikes is just for kids? Think again!! Riding bikes with friends may be one of your favourite childhood memories, but that “feeling of flying” doesn’t have to stop when you reach adulthood. In fact, the benefits of cycling at any age are so numerous, it really makes sense to continue this activity as much (and as late in life) as possible.
Here are some of the benefits you’ll experience by hopping on two wheels:
- Increases your physical activity levels. The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week to achieve health benefits. A bike ride or two can help make this number easy to reach and/or beat!
- Lowers your risk of chronic disease by lowering your blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol.
- Improves your focus and overall mental health.
- Cycling is a low-impact way to get your heart pumping while taking it easy on your hips and knees – a great alternative to pounding the pavement on a run!
- Lets you get a better rest! You sleep better when you’ve been active throughout the day.
- Reduces pollution levels. Every time you choose to ride rather than drive, you are benefiting the environment and air quality. Don’t buy it? I believe the saying goes something like this: “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito.”
- Getting around by bike is free! No fuel costs or parking fees.
- Saves you time!
- In many cases, if you live within a reasonable distance from your destination, you will actually get there faster by bike than by vehicle.
- No need to waste time circling in search of a parking spot!
Worried about safety? Research shows that safety increases as the number of people cycling increases! Reasons for this include: more bikes mean fewer vehicles on the road, and drivers become more aware of the cyclists on the road simply because there are more of them! Are there safety risks to cycling? Yes, BUT the potential benefits outweigh the risks. To be better prepared to share the road, there are some great resources out there to help you brush up on your skills:
- ICBC has cycling safety videos and tips for both drivers and riders
- BC Cycling Coalition has created the BikeSense Manual: A Guide to the Rules of the Road, Bike Handling, Traffic Skills and the Enjoyment of Cycling for Life
Start your cycling season off right by participating in Bike to Work & School Week May 28 to June 3, but don’t stop there! Use Bike to Work & School Week as your jumping off point and keep on riding throughout the summer to experience some (or all) of the benefits listed above. Registration is free, and if you log even one ride you’ll be entered to win the grand prize of a cycling trip for two in Portugal! You can join an existing team (I have one you can join! It’s called “Health’s Angels” and we happily accept new members OR challenges!), start your own team, or sign up as an individual.
If you have school-aged kids, register them for Bike to School Week, and check with the school to see if it is registered – get everyone on board! If your kids’ school sends us photos or stories about their Bike to School event (email: Healthy.Schools@northernhealth.ca), they could have the chance of having Spirit the Caribou visit their school during International Walk to School Month in October!
Let us know if you’ll be participating in Bike to Work & School Week this year; I hope to see you out there!