5 Scientific Reasons Why Cycling Is the Single Best Way to Get Around Your City
YOUR TRANSPORTATION CHOICES SERIOUSLY IMPACT YOUR MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH. HERE’S WHY RESEARCH SHOWS BIKING IS BEST
We don’t have to sell you on cycling: If you’re here, you already know the myriad benefits of riding a bike. Now, a group of scientists have discovered even more good news regarding two-wheeled transportation. In short, when it comes to mental and physical health benefits, nothing beats getting around by bike.
The findings, which were published in Environment International, were part of the European Union-funded—and awesomely named—PASTA (Physical Activity through Sustainable Transport Approaches) study that included surveys of thousands of people (8,802 completed the baseline survey; 3,567 answered the final questionnaire) from seven European cities over a two-year period.
The focus of the study was how various forms of transportation influence how people feel about their general health and wellness. The researchers asked participants how often they used various forms of transportation including public transportation, car, motorcycle, e-bike, conventional bike, and walking, along with a slew of questions about their mental and physical health, including energy levels, fatigue, stress, depression, and social wellbeing.
In the end, bicycle riders hit the transportation jackpot, with those pedaling to and fro on traditional bikes yielding the best results in every analysis. Here are the top findings the researchers teased out.
You feel healthier
No surprise here. Related PASTA project research found that daily cyclists weigh less than their peers, and that people who switch from driving to cycling for their daily commute lose weight and have healthier body mass indexes (BMIs). Cycling also helps keep your immune system stronger as you age and can slow down the aging process. All that shows in how good you feel.
You’re less stressed
Exercise like cycling not only helps keep stress hormones like cortisol in check, but also makes you more stress-resilient over time, so you’re less likely to sweat the small stuff and more likely to feel more chill overall.
Other transportation research has echoed these findings: Those who bike to work arrive less stressed than those who arrive by car.
You’re less lonely
Being on a bike makes you feel more at one with your environment, so you’re less likely to feel isolated and alone. Also, the more you wave and say hi to other pedestrians and cyclists, the less lonely you’ll feel (that’s actually not a scientifically-proven fact, but is an awesome idea).
You enjoy better mental health
The act of pedaling a bike triggers a cascade of feel good chemicals in your brain. So it makes total sense that the more you ride around, the happier you’ll feel. It’s well documented that even brief bouts of exercise can ward off depression.
A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that analyzed 26 years of research concluded that as little as 20 minutes of activity like cycling a day—that’s a 10-minute one way commute—can prevent depression over the long term. Another recent study published in The Lancet found that regular cycling was one of the best activities for improving mental health.
You’ve got vitality!
This one says it all: Bicycle commuters rank highest for vitality—a measure of well-being, physical health, and energy levels. Interestingly, urban infrastructure surveys show that we two-wheeled commuters also improve a city’s vitality. That sounds like a win-win all the way around.
Credit: SELENE YEAGER