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: A Different Kind of Commute: How Biking to Work Benefits the Body and Mind

A Different Kind of Commute: How Biking to Work Benefits the Body and Mind

Systems Administrator/DevOps Engineer

I've been regularly biking to work for four months, and although it started as a nice way to get in some exercise, I've come to realize that it actually does a lot more than just that for me. I've recently been rehabbing an elbow injury that has prevented me from biking to work, so I'm spending time thinking about biking to work rather than doing so. In fact, it's been quite frustrating and has made me think about why that is. There are a number of reasons I enjoy my two-wheeled commutes, many of which I hadn't consciously thought about before.

First and foremost, I've always loved biking. When I was growing up I can recall riding my bike all day long during the summer. I still love the feeling of motion and knowing that I am powering that motion. I also think a large part of why I enjoy my bike commute is that it gets me out of the series of boxes (even one with four wheels) in which I otherwise spend most of my day. I try to spend a lot of my weekends outdoors, but I'm not so great about doing so on weekdays. This is a nice way to get outside for a while and feel the sun on my face. My commute by car takes around 20 minutes, while the trip takes 40 minutes by bike. Even though it takes me longer, I feel a lot less stressed when I get to work. I also feel a lot more alert and awake when I arrive, as biking has a lot of mental benefits.

Doubling my commute time may seem like a bad thing, but I feel like I receive a lot of benefit from the extra time on the road. True, I "lose" 40 minutes a day to my commute, but I'm getting exercise during that time. Instead of getting home and having to go to the gym, I get 40 minutes of cardio for free. Every bit of activity is helpful, and riding to work honestly doesn't even feel like exercise.

Some benefits are a little less tangible. It brings me some satisfaction knowing that I'm not using gas during my riding commute and that I'm not contributing to traffic for the day. Although I don't use a lot of gas during my short commute, every little bit adds up. And even though I feel a lot more alert and awake when I get to work, I am definitely ready for sleep when bedtime comes. This might seem detrimental, but as someone who is pretty stubborn about going to sleep at a decent time, I'll take all the help I can get.

I really can't recommend biking to work enough, if it is at all possible for you to do so. I find that it helps break up the repetitiveness of driving to work every day, which would probably be worth it even without the benefits mentioned above.

Turns out, I'm not the only one who thinks this is a great idea! Check out this great article from a Cleveland Clinic physician who shares my love of bicycling.

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