According to the British Medical Association, cycling just 20 miles a week can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 50%. A major study of 10,000 civil servants suggested that those who cycled 20 miles over the period of a week were half as likely to suffer heart disease as their non-cycling colleagues.

In the interest of health, emission control and overall the launch of warm weather in the United States, The League of American Bicyclists is the national sponsor of Bike Month, and this year Bike to Work Week is May 16-20 and Bike to Work Day is officially Friday, May 20.

Additionally, any regular exercise can reduce stress and depression and improve well being and self esteem. Cycling outdoors is also a good way to be one with nature and to feel the breath of the earth. It takes one’s mind out of everyday life stress and rejuvenates his soul according to many avid bikers.

Cycling makes the heart pound in a steady manner and helps improve cardio-vascular fitness. Studies have shown that cycling to work will increase cardiovascular fitness by 3-7%. Cycling uses the largest muscle groups the legs, raising heart rate to benefit stamina and fitness.

Cycling is also a good way to lose those unwanted pounds. Steady cycling burns approximately 300 calories per hour. If you cycle for 30 minutes every day you would burn 11 pounds of fat in a year. Since it helps build muscle, cycling will also boost your metabolic rate long after you’ve finished your ride. There is a definite shaping, toning and firming of the thighs, the calf muscles and the pelvis region. Fat melts away and is replaced by muscle. Some studies suggest that cycling is one of the few exercises that can help reduce cellulite from the thigh region. There is relatively less stress on the knees and ankles while cycling as compared to other activities like running and aerobic exercises.

The League’s Bicycle Friendly Community program recognizes communities nationwide that support the five E’s of bicycling: education, enforcement, engineering, evaluation and encouragement.

The League’s 1997 move to Washington, D.C., facilitated working with the government. In 2010, the tenth annual Bike Summit will be held with more than 700 participants. Bicycle advocates, industry executives, and educators use the Summit as a chance to meet with elected officials about supporting legislation to help bicycling, and to network with each other.

Lance Armstrong is a member and has said about the organization:

“I am proud to be a member of the League of American Bicyclists…. the more that people are biking, the more influence cyclists will have on improving conditions, and the more likely there will be other American Tour de France champions.”

The popularity of cycling in the United States as a form of exercise or as a recreational activity is marginal. This is despite the fact that Americans like Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis have been immensely successful at major cycling events including the Tour de France.

The bicycle in its present form was first introduced in Europe as late as the nineteenth century and was introduced in the US shortly afterwards. However, over a period of time the Harley-Davidson motorcycle and the American Auto became more popular, especially with the growth of the monoculture suburbs.

Overall, cycling offers numerous benefits. It gives the body a fast and energetic workout and helps the environment at the same time. Happy riding.

Sources: The British Medical Journal, The League of American Bicyclists and Adult Bicycling Online

Written by Sy Kraft