Bicycling benefits almost everyone
Now that we've finally seen the last of winter in our area, it's time to turn to thoughts to spring. For many, that includes getting back out on a bicycle. But even if it's been a while (years even) since you've ridden a bike, considering its many benefits, you may want to give biking a try.
"There are many great reasons to bike, whether for recreation or to get to school or work," reports physician assistant Mark Zellmer, Gundersen Tri-County Hospital and Clinics, who is passionate about biking, and finds Whitehall and Trempealeau County a beautiful place to ride.
Here he shares just four of the many benefits of biking:
- Biking is good for your physical health: Bike riding helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, manage weight and in turn, helps reduce the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other chronic health problems.
Because biking puts relatively little strain on the body, most people can do it, and it can even be a beneficial form of rehabilitation. After his knee and back surgery nearly 20 years ago, biking helped Zellmer get active again. He reports, "Now if I go for a ride, I know my back will feel good for at least a few days with no anti-inflammatories."
- Biking is good for your mental health: Studies have shown that biking, like all exercise, can help reduces stress, anxiety and depression while boosting brain power and emotional well-being. As people age, regular physical activity, such as biking, can help keep thinking, learning and judgment sharp.
- Biking is good for your finances: Every time you bike instead of drive, you save money on gas, maintenance, and wear and tear on your car.
- Biking is good for the environment: About half of all car trips in the U.S. are less than two miles. By using a bike for short trips instead you can help reduce pollution/carbon emissions, congestion and noise pollution. And there's no need to worry about finding a parking spot.
"Select a route matched to your ability," says Zellmer. "For a gentler, level route, pedal around town or along a river road. If you want a challenge, take a route with hills. Trempealeau County has one of the country's largest connected loop bike network on almost 500 miles of hard surfaced roads along with some of the best scenery to make your ride even more enjoyable."
Zellmer cautions, "For safety, be sure you have brakes that work and the right air pressure in tires that are in good condition. Lights, reflectors and bright colored and/or reflective clothing enhance your visibility to others on the road. And always remember to follow the rules of the road."
Finally, one last benefit to bicycling: It's fun and can make your feel like a kid again.