Friday, February 10, 2012

Mental Benefits of Exercise and Bike Commuting

The reasons to get to work via bike are so numerous. I've gained oodles of leg and lung strength since I've started biking regularly (and I wasn't in bad shape before). I can get where I want nearly as quick as any other means of transportation (a little slower than driving, depending on where I go, definitely quicker than busing). I'm also more level headed than ever. I relish biking in rain and lousy weather. How can other every day stressors get to you when you are dodging potholes and have the immediate concern of miserable conditions? Don't get me wrong, long days in the rain get tiring on tour (it rained heavily for 3 days straight, on my trip from NYC to DC), but on a daily commute the feeling is just refreshing.

I show up to work relaxed and focused, though a bit physically tired. My job here at United Way is to answer questions via phone about transportation (For any transportation questions in Broome or Tioga Counties in New York, please call 1-855-373-4040 for completely free individualized transportation assistance!). I help individuals from all walks of life, occasionally in very stressful situations, and my approaching situations calmly is very important. Biking to and from work helps me to be as level headed as possible.

I do occasionally drive to work, due to meetings immediately after work or if I need to haul more stuff than I can carry on the back of a bike (today I elected to drive as I am picking up a printer on my way home though I honestly considered biking and simply bungee-ing it to my back rack). On days that I drive, I feel simply less productive and my head feels numb. There's nothing like getting pounded in the face with rain or frigid air to wake you up!
Have more energy at work, bike commute today!

Here's my question to readers: What are some things that may be stopping you from bike commuting?


  1. I am very averse to cycling in the cold, dark or precipitation and limit myself to fairweather commuting only. The other barrier are the evenings after work when I work part-time or get out for Swing Dancing as I'm not willing to bike late at night.

    I HAVE purchased a Light & Motion VIS 360 which will help me to get out in the quasi-dark mornings and early evenings when I run a little late. So I'm hopeful that this will add some commutes to my week which might have previously passed me by.

  2. I'm going to post about night biking shortly. When the sun was going down early (around the winter solstice), I made an effort to leave work as early as possible to get home before sunset. As I'm going to write about, night biking adds another level of danger.
    Snow adds a layer of danger too. Part of my commute is over the 201 bridge, which rarely has the sidewalk cleared. I walked it today after slipping a little. It is dicey, as you can't see what may be underneath the snow: potholes, or worse ice. Also, I tend to slide around in the snow/
    Rain is yet to stop me from commuting. I just enjoy it.
    Wind can be more of a pain than anything else. This morning was really windy, and it added a significant amount of time to my commute. Part of my learning process has been recognizing that lower gears are there for a reason: if you can keep your cadence high, you will have a much easier time/

  3. Hey, Isaac. Part of what keeps me from the bike-commute is A: if I need to drive my car as part of my job, and B: all the stuff I take with me, like instruments, that would be a hassle to take on the bike. Hopefully, if I can lighten the load, I would love to bike to some of my private music students' houses!