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The Alaska Club

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Pedal Your Way to a Better You!

Posted by Barbara DuBois | Jul 1, 2022 2:25:09 PM

Sick of high gas prices? What if I told you there was a way to save money & improve your health? How? Well, you need to kick yourself into gear and grab a BIKE! Regularly cycling can improve your life expectancy, aid in mental health, improve respiratory systems, reduce heart disease, and help your overall health and weight loss journey.


Improved Life expectancy
The Dutch have an average life expectancy of 2 ½ years longer than the U.S. The difference is they’re avid cyclers. When I was in Amsterdam 40 years ago, I remember seeing priests, nuns, the elderly, businessmen, and women in suits and heels peddling their way through the city. They think of their bikes as their primary form of transportation, and this mindset shift is one we could benefit from. While the Netherlands may have the advantage of being primarily flat, there are still ways to integrate cycling into your life–just ask the fat-tire bikers we see here in the winter!
Helps with Mental Health

Biking is not only good for physical health, but it can also help with mental health. In an article by Michelle Arthurs-Brennen, she points out that “cycling improves mental health.” There’s certainly no shortage of need for that, now is there? A study by the YMCA finds that physically active people have a sense of well-being 32% higher than those who do not. Cycling can contribute to this with the natural release of endorphin and adrenaline. Combined with the confidence accrued from a sense of self-efficacy, cycling can do wonders for your mental health!


Enhances Lung Functions 

These attributes can all be valid about other sports but read on, there is more! According to a study by Dr. David Neiman at the Appalachian State University, exercise such as cycling improves the upper respiratory system. It enhances one’s lung function, thus reducing the risk of acquiring the common cold. It also fortifies the immune system by “waking up lazy white blood cells.” (Who would have known they were prone to be slackers?!)


Reducing heart disease

Concerned about the risk of the nation’s top killing diseases: heart disease and cancer? A study conducted by the University of Glasgow in Scotland found that even just commuting to work by bike can cut the risk of heart disease and cancer by nearly one-half! In addition, when I was a graduate student in Texas, I discovered I actually got to work quicker by bike (and saved money on gas) because I did not have to park the car, walk to the building, etc. I simply biked right to the building. Alert and energized, I was prepped for the day.


Weight Loss

Interested in losing weight? My husband John is a born-again cyclist who has lost, gained, and finally lost for good, thirty pounds. He is a living testimony of an older person who did this in his sixties while gaining remarkable muscle mass in his legs. I have never seen anything like it, but he gets on one of the stationary bikes in the Alaska Club Cardio room and cycles like a possessed demon straight from hell. Smoke is nearly pouring out of the gears as he burns up 800 calories or more and concludes his workout by cleaning up a pool of sweat. John finally found his exercise niche (in addition to tearing up and down mountains.) As older people, we are mindful of preserving our joints. Cycling does just that. The muscle buildup around the knee developed by cycling fortifies and protects the knees.


Cycling generates a whole myriad of positive effects. Beyond the ones already mentioned, it improves one’s spatial orientation (also good as one ages when these senses seem to decline.) That added blood and oxygen flow improves brain function, thus prohibiting the development of dementia. Sleep becomes deeper, food tastes better, alertness is enhanced, and sex life improves. What are you waiting for? See what cycling can do for you!

Topics: Getting Fit, healthy living, aerobic exercise, healthy lifestyles, cycling, biking

Written by Barbara DuBois

MA Health Ed. & Int'l Journalism; PhD Sports & Health History; Texas Tech Univ. & Wayland Baptist Univ. instructor; Health Ed. Program Manager Maniilaq Assoc.

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