Rediscover Your Love For Biking

June 27, 2013

Every kid loves to ride their bike. Seriously, have you ever seen a grumpy kid riding their bike? No, they all have humongous smiles on their faces. They can ride for hours and hours laughing and smiling and breathing fresh air until the sun goes down, and their mom calls them home for dinner.

When I was in college and living in San Francisco, riding my bike was a no brainer. Ride your bike to avoid sitting in traffic and the headache of trying to find a parking space. Just hop on your bike and ride to the most trendy restaurant in town, lock your bike up, and you are in!

As an adult, it seems many of us have forgotten the joys of riding a bike. Being stuck in our fast pace world of deadlines, being too busy, running late, and unworthy of fun, we hop in our cars and sit in the stress of rush hour traffic. When we arrive at work, our fight or flight response has already been stimulated which means cortisol and insulin levels are going nuts even before you start your work day.

Recently I decided it was time to ride my bike to work. I mean, I only live one mile away from my work. It’s kind of embarrassing that it has taken me five years to think of this genius plan. In my defense, I do occasionally walk when the weather is right but I found myself always running late or making excuses for why I can’t walk.

Until I got this beauty!

I love it. I really do. I forgot how much fun it is to ride a bike. It’s fun. Like really fun! It puts a colossal smile on my face every morning when I think about how lucky I am to get to ride it. I feel like a little girl all bright-eyed with the wind and sunshine hitting my face, all the stress and worries of the day are forgotten. When I arrive at work I am still in that state of childlike happiness. And the best part is, it only takes me 1 minute longer to ride my bike then it does to drive to work. One minute! I wouldn’t mind if it took me 15 minutes longer because it’s so much fun. Did I say how much fun it is to ride my bike?

Other benefits of riding your bike?

You get exercise. The constant pumping of your leg and hip muscles increase blood, hormones, endorphins, neurotransmitters, and oxygen throughout your entire body. Bike riding is good for your cardiovascular system, in other words, it strengthens your heart muscle.

It also is good for your brain because it increases blood and oxygen flow to your head, which increases neural activity and helps you to think more clearly and make better decisions.

Decreases depression. Feeling down? Jump on your bike and ride for ½ hour. When you are done, you will have a completely different perspective on what was troubling you.

It’s good for the environment. Last I heard riding your bike doesn’t produce any smog. No need for gas, oil, or to use the air conditioner.

Which also means it’s kind to your bank account. Don’t have money for a car, gas, or parking? Then ride your bike.

It’s a stress reliever. Remember how much fun it was to ride down the block with friends? This is exactly how it feels when I’m riding to work. Like I’m riding with friends on a destinationless journey.

Safety Third…I mean First!

Wear your helmet. Even if you are above 18 and macho and ride on the sidewalk and follow all the rules, you can still fall or get hit by a car. Your brain is who you are. If something were to happen to it, you wouldn’t be the same person. Even minor injuries to the head have shown changes in neural activity. Personally, I liked my brain and spent way too much money on education and the information inside it to risk an injury. I wear the biggest toughest and safest helmet around even if it smashes my big fantastic hairdo.

Follow the rules. Don’t be that guy who rides aggressively cutting cars off. It’s just not worth it. Even if you have the right away if they hit you, it’s your body and brain that suffers. So don’t worry about being right, just be safe, ride with a smile, and let yourself have a little fun.

So start riding your bike again. That kid inside you will thank you for it!

Also in Dr. Dawna Ara, DACM


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