Bike Your Resolutions
It’s a new year and that means packed gyms, cranky dieters, and a pile of optimistic resolutions that’re usually forgotten by… well, already. But don’t lose heart - if you’ve got a bike, you’re already one step ahead of the game! In today’s post we’ll look at some of the most commonly failed new year’s resolutions and how your bike can keep you on track.
Get Fit / Workout
Ah, the big one. The reason gyms get 75% of their new memberships in January. Everyone wants to get in good shape for the new year, but packed gyms and boring workouts knock the wind out of everyone’s sails – that’s why 80% of people who join a gym in January quit within 5 months (not to mention the ones that just stop going, but keep paying).
So skip the gym (the parking, the wait for an available treadmill/stationary bike/weight station, the “free” physical training evaluation that will determine you need a 4-week $200 regime) and hit the road on your bike! Riding is a workout without the wait – just jump on and go! No boring repetition, just point your bike somewhere new every morning. No judgmental looks from the gym regulars, just friendly waves from other riders. And you can still have that post-workout protein shake, without having to worry about parking! Oh, and the best part – no monthly fees and you won’t get the runaround if you try to cancel your membership. Just a fun workout on your own terms, and that makes it easy to keep it up well into the new year.
Hand in hand with the resolutions to get in shape, come the January commitments to a new diet and “finally shedding” those pesky pounds. Unfortunately, it’s tough to stay strong food-wise following the gluttony of the holidays and with the reintroduction of work/school stresses as life gets back underway. So what’s the best way to make sure your diet sticks? Ride a bike, of course!
Riding not only makes you aware of the quality of food you’re eating (a ride after a protein and veggie fueled snack is a delight; after three dozen hot wings, less so*), but it also burns off calories and kickstarts your metabolism, so you can “cheat” without taking the hit on your waistline. In fact, if you simply replace your trips to lunch, dinner, and the grocery store with rides, you’ll find yourself shedding the weight even if you keep eating the same stuff! Heck, after I started commuting and running errands on two wheels, I find myself eating more and more than I ever used to – and still losing weight!
*In defense of hot wings, fried cheese, beer, etc… they all make delicious (and well-deserved) mid-ride snacks, and they’re definitely better for you on the bike than if you drove to the bar. They just don’t make you feel quite as sprightly as a healthy pre-roll meal.
Whatever you’re trying to give up, smoking, snacking, nail biting – one of the best ways to wean your brain and body off of the bad is by replacing it with something good! Exercise is especially effective as the adrenaline and endorphin rush of a workout gives you the positive feedback you need to turn the rare into the routine. If you hit the road for a quick spin instead of lighting up that next stoge, you’ll be healthier, happier, and more likely to successfully call it quits for good.
Work Harder / Be Less Stressed / Be More ________
Those same chemical responses in your brain mean benefits to your work-life too! Whether your resolution is to nab that next promotion, be more productive, or just be in a generally better mood – a little bit of exercise goes a long way to improving your workplace performance. In fact, those who get their hearts pumping on workdays (for example, by bike commuting) suffer less stress, spend the day happier, and are more productive than their car-commuting counterparts. Even if the issue isn’t work, a quick spin on the bike can help combat depression, apathy, and general blah-ness. Not to mention the fact that your improved mood makes meeting the rest of your resolutions even easier too!
Wake Up Earlier / Sleep Better
Whether you want to wake up earlier to help you get a jump on your other resolutions, or you just want to make a commitment to be more rested in the new year, one of the easiest ways to improve your sleep is to pump the pedals. In fact, a national study determined that 150 minutes of exercise a week (a fifteen minute bike commute, 5 days a week) provided a 65% improvement in the quality of sleep and made people feel less tired throughout the day! Because let’s face it, there’s rarely enough time in the day to get to sleep earlier, so using your bike to make those 4 hours in dreamland feel like 6+ is an indispensable life hack.
Get Out of Debt and Save Money
Well, besides saving you the monthly gym membership (and the hassle of quitting), the cost of those cigarettes you’re giving up, and buying new clothes because you finally fit into your “college jeans” again, riding your bike can help you put away even more cash! Commuting by bike can save you an incredible amount of money compared to driving in! Not to mention the money you save on gas (in fact, it’s double good because now your fuel budget and food budget are the same line item)! And if you really get into it, before long you might find yourself selling that car which will save you monthly car, insurance, and parking payments and give you a little spending money (or help you meet your goal of paying down that pesky credit card/college loan/etc…). Boom, resolution resolved.
This resolution makes a lot of lists, but it’s also kind of a bummer. Sure, if you have a problem, you probably ought to cut back (and luckily the habit-busting benefits of biking can help!), but if you’re just trying to imbibe a little less for your waistline or because of the hangover the next day, why bother – just hit the road! Not only does biking make drinking more fun, but thanks to those extra calories you’re burning you can have that extra round without getting extra round yourself. The improved sleep from exercise helps keep the hangovers at bay (not to mention your body processing everything more efficiently when it’s firing on all cylinders). And you don’t even have to worry about bringing a… regrettable... companion home from the bar because you rode!
Travel to New Places
Finally, a fun one! Travel and new experiences expand your horizons, make you a more empathetic and well-rounded person, and provide some much needed relaxation from the day-today drudgery. The only downside is cost. But, since your new year commitment to your bike will be putting money back into your pocket, it should help you make your dream trip a reality too!
And don’t underestimate the travel savings a bike can provide. Bikepacking lets you get out in nature and connect with your roots without even the cost of a car or hotel. Or, if you’re travelling far, using bike share or renting a bike at your destination instead of a car can save you a huge chunk in daily parking fees, insurance, gas, and the like! In fact, just riding around your neighborhood instead of driving opens your eyes up to so many new sights, sounds, and sensations that the novelty can have the same effect on your brain as travelling in a new city. You’ll find art you’ve never noticed, cozy corners that make for perfect picnics, and even new coffee shops, bars, and restaurants that you may have sped past a hundred times without so much as a second glance. And, thanks to the benefits above, you’ll enjoy them more (and without having to count the calories)!
So what are you waiting for? This year, resolve to work riding into your daily routine and watch the rest of your resolutions fall into place. We’re only a few weeks into 2016 and we feel better already.