The Dutch are the tallest people in the world, something I as a Dutchman am quite pleased with. In general, genetics and environmental factors such as nutrition are the determining factors when it comes to adult height. But I’d like to think there is another contributing factor to the Dutch extraordinary height, and that’s the fact that we ride bikes. We ride our bikes to work, to school, when we go out, when we go grocery shopping—we ride our bikes pretty much everywhere. And we cycle come rain or shine. As a result, we’re a pretty healthy nation and healthy things tend to grow. Whether the latter is actually a scientific fact I’m not sure, but I do know riding a bike as your standard means of transportation is a lot better for you than driving a car. And in Canada, it’s more popular than ever.
Cycling is a very practical way to stay fit. In fact, if you use a bike to get from A to B, you don’t even need to free up extra time for it. It doesn’t require skill or practice—once you’ve learned how to ride a bike, you don’t forget how it works and its health benefits are numerous.
Riding a bike increases your overall body strength, not just the power in your legs. Your entire body is involved in keeping your balance, and the bike in motion. As such, cycling builds muscle tissue that will slightly increase your metabolism and help you burn a little more calories even after you got off your bike. Of course, while actually riding your bike, you burn calories as well. A 70 kg person burns around 550 calories per hour while riding a bike at a normal pace. Try burning those kinds of numbers while standing in traffic.
Ride your bike long and often enough, and you’ll notice your stamina will go up too. But more importantly, it improves your cardiovascular fitness. Intervention studies also indicate some improvements in cardiovascular risk factors due to commuting cycling.
For the optimal active ride to work, get yourself a hybrid bike. This type of bike combines the features of road bikes with those of mountain bikes. Sporty enough to get a good workout, and comfortable enough for everyday use.
So there you have it: improving health can literally be as easy as riding a bike!
Have fun out there and ride safe!
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