They are one of the easiest (and cheapest) forms of transport around. And now, thanks to high-profile cyclists such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Pippa Middleton, good old fashioned bikes are becoming The Next Big Thing for those looking for a stylish way to travel.
“Cycling has most definitely made a comeback,” says David O’Leary, director of Bike & Go, a bike hire scheme which is based at train stations including Beverley.
“Rentals of Bike & Go bikes more than doubled in 2016 compared to 2015, and the first quarter of 2017 saw the growth rate continue into this year – helped by the recent warm weather.
“The mindfulness trend, a desire to save money, and a determination to keep fit are just some of the reasons that our customers have given us for renting our bikes, and I think the feeling is the same amongst bike owners too.”
So, with the cycling season well and truly underway, here's 10 reasons why you should take up cycling right now.
It will keep you slim
It may not be rocket science, but it is proven; cycling is one of the best forms of exercise for staying trim. Researchers at the University of East Anglia and the Centre for Diet and Activity Research found that for people who switched from driving to cycling to work and rode for more than 30 minutes each way, there was an average reduction of around one stone over 12 months.
It could prevent heart disease
It may be an ambitious claim, but a five-year study of 250,000 UK commuters was published in April which showed that regular cycling to work reduced the risk of death by heart disease by 46%. The research, from the University of Glasgow, also revealed that taking to two wheels cut the incidence of cancer by 45%, with the team claiming that cycling took no willpower once it became part of the work routine.
You’ll see another side of your local area
Parks, water, historic buildings . . . they’re all right here on your doorstep, but how often do you really notice them? Stuck behind a wheel, we rarely get the chance to look at our surroundings, but move onto two wheels and you’ll see your environment from a whole new perspective.
It will help you to de-stress
Numerous studies have shown the mental health benefits, with one in particular finding that after pedalling a stationary bike for 15 minutes, the levels of stress hormone cortisol in people with depression who were being treated with antidepressants, declined.
Another piece of research, by researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) found that active commuters felt better able to concentrate and under less strain than when travelling by car.
It will help the environment
Requiring no fuel to run, less energy to make than a car, and no batteries or motor oil, bikes are an extremely green form of transport. And that’s before you take into account the polluted air and car particles and debris that end up in the atmosphere. So, by jumping on a bike, not only are you improving your own wellbeing – you’re also doing your bit when it comes to saving the planet.
You don’t need to wear lycra to do it
Forget skin-tight cycling shorts and tops – cycling can be done in almost any type of outfit. Work suits, jeans, even dresses can be worn by those wanting to use a bike to get from A to B. Whatever you’re wearing right now? Chances are that’s just the right outfit to go cycling in. If you’re looking at hiring a bike, make sure that they are fitted with a chain guard; Bike & Go bikes have a full chain casing which completely cover the chain, front chain-ring, and rear cog, to make sure that your clothes are protected.
You’ll beat the local commute
Sick of speed cameras? Troubled by traffic jams? Swop four wheels for two and you’ll never have to worry about them again. And if you combine cycling and the train, by leaving your bike at the station or hiring one to take you from the station to your place of work, you’ll get there even quicker.
You can do it with friends
There’s nothing better on a sunny day than enjoying a bike ride and a picnic with friends. Even when the weather is rainy and grey, cycling with friends can blow the cobwebs off and give you a chance to catch up in the fresh air. And if you’re new to the city? Join a local cycling club, where you’ll meet lots of new people in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
It will improve your sleep
If you want to sleep like a baby, keep up those regular bike rides. In a lengthy study which spanned 35 years, researchers at the University of Georgia found that as participants became less fit, their quality of sleep deteriorated. As little as a two per cent decline in fitness for men and four per cent in women led to reduced sleep.
It will knock years off your face
The benefits cycling can have on your body are clear; but did you know that it can do wonders for your face too? Exercising increases blood flow to the skin, which helps to make skin look younger. In fact, scientists at the Saarland University Clinic in Germany found that, when looking at cell life spans of experienced middle-aged runners in comparison to their less active peers, the joggers looked much younger – which proves that exercise really can roll back those years.
Written by Rachael Tinniswood
Tagged in Cycling