How Cycling to Work Changed my Life

Image Credit: Business Lounge

Microsoft cares about it’s employees so much it even brings doctors on campus to make it easier for them to get their annual checkup done. For me, every health indicator was fine … except my weight. My doctor said that if I didn’t want to face lifestyle diseases later in my life, I’d better loose weight.

Now, the problem with loosing weight is that unlike your phone, you can’t just keep it on a colleague’s desk and forget to pick it up. Losing weight is not an errand. It’s a project. It requires sustained effort.

Sustained.

Effort.

For sustained effort, you need to form a habit. And just the way old habits die hard, new ones are hard to form, too.

The trick to getting regular exercise is to chose an activity that you enjoy.

Then exercising won’t be a chore, it’ll be a treat.

I used to play badminton every day when I was in Bangalore. Because I loved it. But it was hard to get a court in Hyderabad.

I hated going to the gym. Running for an hour but going nowhere isn’t particularly fun. And elevated breathing in a room full of perspiring individuals whose sweat gets recycled by the air conditioner didn’t fit my definition of healthy.

I noticed a few of my colleagues cycled to office. I decided to try it out. After a few weeks, I realised that cycling had effected my life in more ways than I expected.

Fitness

I lost weight. I could now wear slim fit shirts without subjecting the world to my paunch. I could bend down and tie my shoes without having to hold my breath. Since there are hardly any vehicles on my route, I was breathing in a lot of fresh morning air. And because I was fitter, I felt more confident. My self-esteem shot up.

Energy

I was afraid I might not have the energy left to do a good day’s work. After all, the office was a good 8km from my apartment. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I had more energy than usual. Thanks to the heightened heart rate and adrenaline gushing through my body.

Money

I wasn’t running up my car’s odometer. I wasn’t buying as much petrol. I didn’t have to service my car as frequently. I wasn’t going to be spending a ton of money on healthcare because of lifestyle diseases. I wasn’t contributing to pollution, ozone depletion or global warming.

Time

If you’re like most people, you’ll usually have around 2 hours of free time every day. So every hour counts. Had I commuted by car for half an hour and then gone to the gym for an hour, I’d be spending 1.5 hours. Since my commuting and exercising were together, I spent 1 hour in it. That saved me 30 minutes every day.

Motivation

I didn’t have Monday Morning Blues anymore. I’d look forward to enjoying the weather and the view while listening to music or a podcast. And feel good about it.

The reason that I could stick to cycling wasn’t only that I enjoyed it, but also because I tied it with going to work. You can skip going to the gym, but you can’t skip going to work. Of course, I could have copped out by taking the car instead, but cycling was so much fun that I’d become sad whenever I, for some reason, had to take my car.

I’ve been cycling to work for about a year now and enjoying it. If just 20% of people adopted this practice, imagine the effect on health and traffic it would have.

Why don’t you give it a try? What’s the most you could lose? A few kilos?