Welcome to the second post in a 5-story challenge about how my year-long cycling experiment has changed me. The first post looked at saving money. Now it’s time to look at well-being. At the end of the post, you’ll find an interesting infographic.
During these past eleven months, I’ve pedalled more kilometres and spent more hours riding than any other year in my life. It’s caused a significant increase in my level of physical exercise. So, with that, you’d think I should be fitter, stronger and healthier. And I am! … but even more than I’d expected.
When I began thinking about this experiment in November 2014 and what it might mean for me, I realised it carried several motivations. One was to save some money. Another was to make me fitter. I had no specific goal for either. I just knew that both would be likely outcomes and I’d enjoy them. They would be of value to me.
So it’s now a wonderful surprise to notice how my well-being has changed over the year. You see I wasn’t paying attention at first to changes in my fitness. That’s because I was so focussed on making the change to ride my bicycle instead of taking the car. Now that this choice is normal for me, I’m noticing. And this is what happened:
My bicycle riding became incidental exercise.
Incidental exercise is the type that happens as we go about our living – walking around the shops, cleaning, gardening, using stairs instead of an elevator or escalator. In my case, it’s been riding my bicycle as transport.
And this is what I’ve noticed:
- Riding uphill is easier – I’m less puffed and less daunted when facing a hill climb
- My legs are more toned; they feel stronger. I can carry larger loads in my panniers.
- My mind becomes clearer after a bike ride.
- I sleep better – ahhh 💤💤 🙂
- I have more energy and feel more physically capable.
BUT I’ve also noticed that with more riding, different muscles tighten.
My shoulder (trapezius) muscles were tightening and that wasn’t good. I’m told this is a common issue for bicycle riders. So with some help from the bike mechanics at Mikes Bikes, the position of my bike’s seat and handlebars have been adjusted to make my riding position more upright. And I’m remembering to relax my shoulders while riding.
As well, a few twinges crept into my knee. After a visit to my physiotherapist at Ridiculously Well (how could you not feel better 🙂 ), I learnt that my thigh muscles (quadriceps) which play a key role in stabilising the knee, had shortened. This is also common amongst bicycle riders. It was easily remedied with some stretches – which for me, centre around some regular yoga poses to lengthen those muscles.
* * *
So it seems all this pedalling has led me somewhere better…
As this year-long experiment has progressed, being well has become easier because my exercise is incidental to living. I love that. It makes me even happier.
Finally I want to share with you a neat infographic*. It begins with USA-specific statistics about cycling participation and then you’ll see HEALTH BENEFITS and what happens when your body is biking.
It helps me understand what might be behind my ‘somewhere better’.
Gary, from PedalWORKS was kind enough to nominate me for this 5-story challenge because he’d like to learn how my year-long cycling experiment has changed me.
To keep the conversation going, I’m inviting you to leave a comment or write a blog post about how riding your bicycle has helped your well being. I’d love to read them! 🙂