MALAISE – a general feeling of discomfort or unease whose exact cause is difficult to identify. I’m pretty sure, as humans, we’re not meant to live in a state of malaise of fluctuating degrees of severity. Today could be the perfect day to gauge your degree of malaise if indeed you suffer from it at all. It’s 2019, a new year. Christmas is over. New Years Eve is over and for many people, it’s back to work as usual tomorrow.
I bet there’s a good proportion of the population that are feeling an overwhelming sense of dread today as the thought of impending work tomorrow sits heavily on their minds. There will be others secretly high fiving the air because they can’t wait for an excuse to get away from the family and the chores and the responsibilities of home.
I have 3 words for any of those who fall in to either of these categories – MAKE A CHANGE. Doesn’t have to be a massive change but if you take control of one small aspect of your life in a deliberate way with good intention it won’t take long to turn little changes in to big ones easily and effortlessly.
So, as we’re all about getting more people on bikes I thought I would take this opportunity to remind those thinking about making little changes for the good in this new year, of just how beneficial it is to make cycling part of your everyday life.
Even if you haven’t been behind the handlebars since your ride had training wheels, we could all learn a thing or two from cyclists. Generally, people who cycle on a regular basis are:
In good shape – 1 hour on a bike can burn well over 500 calories depending on incline and how quickly your pedalling. It gets your heart rate up and is scientifically proven to slow the decline of cardiovascular health in older people according to a 2013 study. Cyclists use a range of muscles including quads, hammies, calves and core. Plus there’s no strain on your joints like other forms of cardio such as running making it a great low impact exercise.
Have oodles of energy – So you’d be forgiven for thinking that slogging it out up those hills would be draining but the opposite is true. A 2008 study found that low and moderate intensity biking greatly reduced feelings of fatigue and significantly increased energy levels.
You become more attractive – Truth!! Honest!! A survey conducted in London by the British Heart Foundation found that one quarter of people studied said they’d prefer to go on a date with a cyclist over any other type of athlete. And if you do a ride for charity? Well you’re tipping the scales in ‘hot’ because 80% of the participants said they would be impressed by this.
You become more self-sufficient and less needy and ultimately stronger inside and out - This mindset is one that many strive for in everyday life. There’s a book; “Back to Sanity” by Steve Taylor, Ph.D. He says “The benefits of being a self-sufficient person are that you don’t depend as much on external things to make you happy,”
And it makes sense - self-sufficient people have a fundamental core of well-being, which means they can rebound more quickly after negative events and don’t get so carried away by positive ones. They’re more level headed and less emotional.
They become more mindful and present – Concentrating on the road or the trail ahead requires a presence of mind and a focus that few other activities do. Consequently, these traits are developed and honed naturally and effortlessly. Developing a more mindful and present approach to everyday life is proven to increase overall happiness and wellbeing.
They live longer - It could be the exercise or it may be the mindfulness but research seems to suggest that cycling is associated with a longer lifespan. Apparently, cyclists who ride in the Tour de France live an extra eight years, according to research published in the International journal of Sports Medicine.
Being out of breath on a regular basis is known to be good for you and if you’re slogging it out up and down the hills and trails you’re going to be panting, that’s for sure.
They acquire Zen - as contradictory as it sounds, when you are riding a bike on a technical trail or a new road - you lose yourself in the moment whilst maintaining complete control. It's a great lesson to follow through to many other aspects of life.
So, what are you waiting for? If you are feeling uneasy about getting back in to the routine of your life or perhaps a little too excited about it then perhaps this suggestion of making cycling part of your everyday life is something to consider. And you don’t have to be hardcore when you start out. Be gentle with yourself and take each ride as it comes. How ever you do it, make 2019 the year you gently shake the world in to exactly what you want it to be.