Dear Holly: Why do you care about bikes so much? -Four Wheel Drive
Dear Four Wheel Drive- Nutrition is one big piece in the overall puzzle of health and wellness. Exercise, including riding bikes, helps to achieve good overall fitness. Being fit improves many health variables: our ability to handle stress, our sleeping patterns, eating habits and various hormone levels. Biking, health and nutrition are related!
I grew up in Oxford, and shared similar views on bikes to many midwestern folks – bikes are something kids ride, albeit decreasingly, and something crazy spandex-clad folks do on the weekends.
Living in Washington DC for three years, traveling around the world and completing the Climate Ride, a bike trek from New York City to Washington DC, have significantly altered my biking views. In DC, I did not own a car. I purchased a hybrid bicycle to bridge the gaps in public transportation and in the process, fell back in love with a favorite, forgotten childhood activity. I enjoyed having a chance to build physical activity in my day, to know that I am burning calories instead of fossil fuel. Usually I felt refreshed when I got to work, instead of frazzled by traffic jams. Plus, I was saving money by not using the trains and buses or by having a car.
Traveling in Europe opened my eyes to a completely different view on bicycles. There, bikes are an integral part of day to day life. Many people commute via bicycle and the crowded bike racks prove it! There is less anxiety about cars and bikes co-existing because it is a normal part of life. I was amazed in Germany that there were roads for bikes, separate lanes for bicycles and sidewalks for pedestrians. Sweden has even built a bike highway!
Like making changes in nutrition, the common flaw in thinking is that is has to be all or nothing; either you ride your bike for every trip or it doesn’t matter. Not true – anytime that you choose two wheels over four you are lowering your impact on the environment and improving your fitness.
Research that looks at obesity risk and transportation tends to find that folks who to drive to work will weigh more than those who walk or bike to work. For all of the folks who live and work in town, biking or walking to work is a great opportunity to stay slim and avoid the parking headaches (and possible tickets).
Exercise benefits not only your cardiovascular fitness, it also improves brain function. Adults who exercise tend to have better problem solving skills, better memory and a physically larger and more connected brain. Kids benefit too; those who cycle or walk to school demonstrate a measurable increase in concentration that lasts for up to four hours. Exercise may have a larger impact than breakfast!
Exercise, mood and eating patterns are tightly related. Regular exercise helps to curb cortisol and adrenaline – hormones that can be linked to poor eating habits. Regular exercise can promote mood boosting chemicals to lower anxiety and improve depression symptoms. Regular exercise can even help you to sleep better, which is the foundation for being healthy during the waking hours.
Check out your local bike shop for group rides, classes for learning to bike safely on the road and how to maintain your bicycle. The BikeWise Oxford offers group bike rides on Monday and Wednesday evenings. Connect with the Bikeable Oxford! on facebook and the Oxford Visitors Bureau to learn about building more bike lanes and paths in and around the city.
Safety first; ensure that your bike is in good working order, has proper lighting and reflectors so that you can see and be seen. Stay alert and wear your helmet!
Ready for a Real Food Wellness Challenge? Start the month with 21 Days of Real Food! Click to enroll in the challenge; we launch the 1st of each month.
What’s your question for Holly? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information and to make an appointment to work on your goals, visit Grass Roots Nutrition, LLC and BrideBod, owned by me, Holly Larson, a Registered Dietitian. Visit me online at hollylarsonrd.com and follow us on Facebook. Have a delicious, healthy day!