Exercise sucks! Especially if you’re obese like me. The idea of going for a run or hitting the gym fills me with complete horror! But I recognise that I need to have some physical activity in my life, so I try to find some other ways of doing it.
The World Health Organisation recommends that all adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intense aerobic activity every week. And Slimming World has the Body Magic scheme to encourage exercise – ranging from 45 minutes a week for the Bronze level to 150 minutes for Platinum.
So how can I achieve these targets, and help my weight loss, without having to endure the hell of visiting a gym?
I don’t wait until I get home from work, decide I’m feeling too tired (or lazy) to go out and do exercise, and then spend the rest of the evening feeling guilty. Instead, I’ve found a way to build activity into my day. For me, that’s commuting to and from work by bike.
Cycling doesn’t have to be about lycra
A lot of people think that cycling is all about dressing up in skin-tight lycra and hitting the road on a fancy high-speed road bike. But there’s nothing to say you can’t commute by bicycle wearing normal clothes.
You can, of course, wear sports gear if you think you’re going to get really sweaty – as long as you have facilities to shower and change at work. But if not, it’s entirely possible to cycle in both formal and non-formal office attire. You just need to slow down a bit, so you don’t get so sweaty.
You’ll still get a work-out (similar to that you’d get from a brisk walk), but you’ll also be achieving something while you’re exercising – namely you’ll get to work. And depending where you live, it might even get you there quicker than a car!
Cycling in Dublin
My commute is about 7km each way, and it takes me about half an hour to cycle. I ride to work almost every day, so I get in over 5 hours of cycling in a typical week. So I’m more than meeting the W.H.O and Slimming World targets!
And with Dublin rush-hour traffic being what it is, it’s much faster to cycle than use any other form of transport. Driving would take at least 45 minutes, the bus around 80 minutes, and walking would take 90 minutes. So by cycling I’m also saving time!
I wear my normal work clothes on the bike, and don’t require any special equipment except maybe for a good set of waterproofs for the wet days. I also have a pannier bag that clips onto the back of the bag, and stops me from getting a sweaty back from wearing a backpack.
Is cycle commuting for you?
Of course there are many reasons why you might think that commuting by bike might not be for you: it’s too far, you’re too unfit, or it seems too scary with all the traffic on the roads.
Well I would say that anyone who lives within 10km of their work could potentially cycle quite easily. Fitness will come over time, and you can build up to it, maybe starting with 1-2 commutes by bike per week. And other traffic on the road might seem scary at first but you get used to dealing with it with experience.
The best advice for anyone considering cycling to work is to try out the route beforehand when the roads are quiet – perhaps at the weekend. Have a think about your route, because it might be quicker or safer to take a slightly different route than the one you would drive. There might even be short-cuts you can take on a bike that you can’t take by car. Also look for roads with segregated bike paths and bus lanes, as that’ll help make you feel a bit safer.