Many years ago, recreational cycling used to be a weekly routine, especially during warm-weather months. Work and family obligations (among other things), however, led to this aerobic activity dropping to the bottom of the priority list. Surprisingly, it was during the summer of 2020, when the pandemic was still at its height, that cycling crept its way back to the top of my list of goals for maintaining good health.
Like most people, I found myself with extra time to spare when life came to a halt following the COVID-19 mandate to stay home. Motivated to make the most of an otherwise bleak time for everyone around the world, I was intent on improving my physical health with an activity that would also (hopefully) stave off any likelihood of contracting the coronavirus. And seeing my two-wheeler sitting in my basement collecting dust rekindled an interest to pedal my way to enhanced well-being. It was indeed a more adventurous way to exercise and to keep the dust off of a bike during a pandemic.
One morning, I decided to pump up the bike tires and roll my metallic-blue ride outside. It was overcast with a light fog. I always had a preference for pedaling down the road on a sunny day. Something was refreshing, however, about the brisk breeze and mist in the air. And I found myself feeling as motivated to start my pedaling jaunt that morning as I would on a bright, clear day.
One and a half years later, I remain motivated to use cycling as one of several pursuits to maintain good health. And the wear on my bike tires is evidence of this. Recently, I was delighted to complete another cycling trek on another overcast day. Rain was forecasted but I returned home before feeling any droplets. I was feeling good about my roadway escapade. And I was in awe of the beauty I saw in my surroundings, even with clouds and fog.
Health-promoting Benefits of Riding a Bike
According to Healthline.com, the benefits of cycling are many. They include bettering lung health, improving mental well-being, strengthening muscles, weight loss, reducing our carbon footprint, and increasing socialization, just to name a few. The takeaway: riding a bike is a fun and practical way of improving your health. The trick is knowing how to incorporate it as a routine recreational activity.
Pedaling at least 15 minutes a few days a week, for instance, would lead to numerous health benefits. Just 15 minutes of exercise could increase your life expectancy and improve sleep and memory according to HealthAndHealthier.com. Upgrading cycling to recreational outings enables you to appreciate and connect with your local community and enjoy the outdoors. What better way to get around town (perhaps to run some errands) or see the countryside than on a bike.
There’s another important takeaway, however, when it comes to recreational cycling. It’s a great way to practice mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
According to the Mayo Clinic, mindfulness is “a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment.” Relaxation, stress reduction, and an increased sense of self are the end products of mindfulness when one employs one of several practices common to this meditative exercise. They include breathing methods, guided imagery, living in the moment, and self-talk (that helps enhance self-acceptance) among other practices. When you engage in biking as a mindfulness activity, it becomes a delightfully meditative experience that enables you to feel mentally refreshed and to be one with nature and one with yourself.
What are You Waiting for?
If you enjoy cycling, you’re likely to appreciate the experience described above. And if you have thought about cycling but never taken the next step, or never thought about cycling as a robust aerobic activity, why not consider this as a goal for yourself this spring.
If you don’t know where or how to get started with cycling, read this piece by the long-established outdoor co-operative, REI. You’ll learn about the dos and don’ts of biking and simple ways to start pedaling on the road. You’ll also learn about how cycling can enhance your day-to-day experience, in addition to exercise and mindfulness. And it will dispel any myths you may have about this outdoor pastime.
So, don’t wait any longer and cycle to your heart’s content.
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