Get on your bike
It's official: summer's here. The weather's finally taken a turn for the better and the days are at their longest, giving you more time to enjoy the outdoors.
While it's great to enjoy the sunshine by having BBQs, why not grab your bike and truly appreciate the Great British outdoors? If you need a bit of motivation to locate your cobweb-covered two wheels, Bike Week 2016's the perfect push.
The focus of this year's campaign, running from 11 to 19 June, is to encourage people to use their bikes to cycle to work.
If you still need some convincing, maybe these reasons to get on your bike will have you reaching for the cycle shorts:
Your body's metabolic rate — the efficiency with which your body burns calories and fat — isn't just raised during your ride, but for several hours after. "Even after cycling for 30 minutes you could be burning a higher amount of total calories for a few hours after you stop," explains Mark Simpson of Loughborough University.
One of the advantages of cycling's that you can combine it with commuting, meaning you'll get fitter every day without really trying. It will also save you from forking out for a monthly gym membership.
Did you know?
- Light exercise strengthens your immune system.
- Regular cycling can cut the risk of heart disease by 50%.
- The average human does the equivalent of 2,924 miles to the gallon on a bike.
- A cycling adult uses 10x the oxygen they'd use just sitting in front of the TV for the same period.
If work's been stressing you out and your sleep's suffered as a result, cycle to work instead of jumping in the car. While your fatigue might put you off from the exercise, it will help you sleep better. A Stanford University School of Medicine study found that sedentary insomnia sufferers who cycled for 20–30 minutes every other day saw their sleep time increase by almost an hour and the time it took them to fall asleep was reduced by half.
Getting leaner and sleeping better will enhance your self-esteem and confidence, and spending time outside will make you feel happier as sunlight boosts your levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin. What's more, getting more daylight in your life will also help you sleep better.
Travel cheaper and quicker
According to the RAC, the annual cost of owning a car in the UK's £5,869 — the majority of which goes on fuel. And with fuel and public transport costs rising, cycling's a financially attractive option.
Cycling also means you're not just stuck in traffic. According to BikeRadar, travelling by bicycle's twice as fast as a car in traffic. And with traffic on the increase, you could save even more time.
Save the planet
Nearly a quarter of the UK's CO2 emissions now come from road transport, so swapping your car for your bike will help cut pollution locally, and globally. Manufacturing a bike also takes around 5% of the materials and energy used to make a car.
If cycling to work isn't an option for you, why not try a gentle ride for Father's Day? Head to the Sustrans website to find the perfect bike ride, whatever his interests are.