First New Year Resolution for 2015 — Make Cycling a Part of You!

CHARLES LEE | 2nd Jan 2015 | FEATURES

First New Year Resolution for 2015 — Make Cycling a Part of You!

As we usher in the year of 2015,¬†many¬†of¬†us¬†will¬†list down some New Year’s Resolutions¬†that we want to achieve or accomplish.¬† Some aim¬†to save enough for trip to Europe.¬† Some¬†hope to embark on¬†a course¬†in a bid¬†to change their career.¬† For some others (or rather, for many others), an unhealthy BMI (short for Body Mass Index)¬†heads north as our age goes up and shedding¬†those fats¬†to get a more trimmer outlook¬†becomes one of the must-do list in 2015.
On the topic of losing weight, it is interesting to note from an unnamed source that as many as 36% of resolution-makers strike off this resolution before January ends.¬†¬†“I have to take care of my young kids”,¬†“I can’t find time”,¬†“I am tired after a¬†day’s of work”,¬†“I thought I liked going to the gym but I guess its too much for me after 2 sessions”¬†and¬†“I¬†tried jogging and my knees¬†hurt after that”¬†are common-place¬†reasons¬†for the faltering¬†wish.¬† By February, the spare tyre tummy usually returns.¬† By the end of the year, the “wheel size” usually increases.¬† In fact, a recent study by the Singapore Health Promotion Board reveals that obesity is growing at a fast-moving rate of 1%¬†year-on-year in Singapore.
So, having heard so many excuses for the lack of exercise, it appears that a lack of passion could well be the main reason for the diminishing interest in the many activities that people have signed up.  Many sport activities such as, say, Canoeing, Rock-Climbing or Roller-Hockey, could look like a lot of fun during the first few tries.  But taking up such sports on a serious note involves not only time, but a deeper level of technical knowledge and the mental and physical stamina to muster them.
Cycling, be it mountain biking or road riding, has been increasingly seen as an activity that offers more than many other forms of sports.  Whether it is simply a leisurely ride along the park connectors or blazing through trails in Pulau Ubin, many find it easy to pick cycling up as a hobby because it is not difficult to learn and to develop a passion for it.  The following (and most-defined) benefits summed up why one should take cycling up.
 
Cycling offers Easy Access to Exercising
In all respect, any regular form of exercise (e.g. jogging, golfing or even bowling) offers tremendous health benefits.  But what makes cycling an attractive activity over the others is the relative ease of taking up this sport.  In all-summer Singapore, riding a bike can be done anytime and anywhere.  With established park connectors (and the many bike rental shops to get a rented bike), nicely-manicured neighbourhood garden parks and the affordability of bicycles (a simple mountain bike retailing in mega supermarts and some shopping malls can cost as low as $150), there is little reason to decline doing this fun activity.
 
Overall Health Benefits associated with Cycling
Many established researches and studies have proven that there is a direct link between¬†cycling and¬†good health.¬† An aerobic exercise, cycling improves cardiovascular fitness by making one breathe harder and making¬†the heart¬†beat¬†faster.¬† Like other exercises,¬†cycling¬†burns calories. Studies have shown that cycling at a steady (but not too slow) pace will rub off 300 calories every hour. ¬†Interestingly,¬†a¬†cycling-related website claims that cycling for just 30 minutes¬†every day¬†will enable¬†one to shed almost 5 kilograms of fat in a year’s time and reduces the risk of getting diabetes by as high as 40%! ¬†Some other past studies have also suggested that cycling reduces the risks of breast cancer and colon cancer.
 
Cycling is a Good Alternative Form of Exercise
It is common to hear that sportsmen who sustained joint injuries will switch to cycling as part of their cross-training regime to maintain their shapes and competitiveness.  This is because cycling is a low-impact exercise and the action of pedaling allows one to improve and sustain muscle function without hurting or straining the joints.  In the marathon scene, seasoned runners switch to cycling during off-seasons because their intuitive understanding is that the pounding from each running step takes a toll on the joints and one is more likely to sustain increased wear and tear at the joints in his/her later years (note that it may not exactly be true according to a recent long-term study by Stanford University).  Regardless of the reason, cycling is well regarded as one of the best alternative forms of exercising for injured sportsmen, runners and patients who cannot perform their primary form of sport activity.
 
Cycling builds Family and Friendship Bonds
Along¬†the¬†East Coast Park, it is not uncommon to spot¬†families and friends cycling leisurely, making small talks and, at times,¬†laughing off at¬†one another for wobbling¬†and almost falling off their bikes.¬† For young families, coaching the kids to balance on their bikes¬†allows for greater parent-children¬†bonding.¬† Cycling as a family enables the parents to discover the fun side of their children’s characters and their limits on taking on a challenging task.¬† A parent once mentioned that he cultivated his¬†son’s leadership skills by constantly getting him to ride in front of the family pack and to lead the way for them.¬† Such is the power of cycling!
 
Cycling Reduces Stress
As a matter of record, all forms of exercise reduce stress because the act of exercising releases a “good” chemical¬†known as¬†endorphin in our brains. ¬†But what makes cycling triumph is that¬†cycling offers a real sense of freedom.¬† The exposure to the natural¬†elements of the wind and sun, and admiring of the scenery gives one the opportunity to focus on the joys of the¬†ride (and not on the stressful thoughts).¬† For mountain bikers,¬†the achievement of successfully climbing a long hilly track¬†or down-hilling a treacherous path of rock gardens offers great stress-relieving moments because¬†such accomplishments gave¬†recognition to the bikers’ abilities to overcome those obstacles.
All in all, cycling offers itself as a fun and recreational activity that is well-liked by avid and novice bikers of all ages.  It should not be in your New Year Resolution.  It should be part of your life.