How biking to work can benefit your overall health

Commuting is a fact of life for millions of professionals. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the average person in the United States spends 26.1 minutes getting to work, while Statistics Canada notes the average Canadian spends 26.2 minutes getting to the office.

Few people enjoy commuting. In fact, a 2004 study published in the journal Science found that female commuters cited commuting as their least satisfying daily activity, ranking it below housework. Perhaps that’s because commuting, whether commuters recognize it or not, tends to have adverse effects on their overall health. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Urban Health found that longer commutes are associated with behavioral patterns that may contribute to obesity and other negative health conditions.

Commuters who live close to work can counter some of the negative effects of commuting by cycling to work. Cycling is a healthy activity that the Harvard Medical School notes can help people build muscle and increase bone density, which naturally decreases with age. And there are additional benefits to cycling to work that might compel some commuters to pedal their way to the office.

• Biking can help you meet minimum exercise guidelines. The latest Physical Activity Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week. Biking to work can help people meet and exceed those weekly guidelines, providing a strong foundation for a long, healthy life.

• Biking to work can lower your risk of chronic disease. Regular physical activity like cycling can lower your risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. Adults who can’t find the time to exercise outside of work may find that exercising during their commutes by biking to work is their best and most effective means to lowering their risk for chronic disease.

• Biking to work can improve cognition. The American Heart Association notes that regular physical activity like cycling has been linked to improved cognition, which can positively affect memory, attention and processing speed.

• Biking to work may help reduce stress. A 2017 study from researchers at Montreal’s Concordia University attempted to investigate the impact of various commuting modes on workers’ stress levels upon arrival to their workplace. The study found that such levels were lower among cyclists than they were among people who drove or took public transportation to the office.

Biking to work may not help people reduce their commute times, but it might make those commutes less taxing on their overall health.

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