Sure, your cycling habit keeps you healthy and happy. But did you know it also makes you less likely to be lazy, lots of fun to hang out with and even more likely to learn how to meditate?
Read on for more surprising ways your love of biking is helping you when you’re not in the saddle.
Turns out spandex is sexy: A scientific study of people’s subconscious attitudes toward different sports found both men and women think cyclists are intelligent, generous and “cool.” In fact, the British Heart Foundation-commissioned survey found that 23% of people in the study said they would prefer to date a cyclist over those who do other sports, and 27% would want a cyclist on their pub quiz team.
When you’re a cyclist, there’s a good chance you ditch your car in favor of your bike every chance you get. Since the bicycle is considered the most energy-efficient vehicle ever invented, you’re playing a role in reducing transportation emissions, traffic congestion and the need for petroleum. All while feeling like you’re the one who’s winning.
Women’s issues are at the forefront of our collective consciousness, yet it can be tough to know what, exactly, you can do to show you believe in equality. Turns out riding a bike is a great way to (subtly) let your feminist flag fly: Social reformer and feminist Susan B. Anthony called the bicycle a “freedom machine,” saying it did “more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.”
From more creativity (one study found that just 25 minutes of aerobic exercise, like cycling creative thinking) to better brain power (another study found exercise led to an improvement of up to 15% in mental tests), exercise has been scientifically proven to boost the kinds of skills employers love. Want to impress your boss even more? Ride before work or at lunchtime: One University of Bristol study of 200 people found that employees who exercised in the morning or during the day improved their time and workload management. It also boosted their motivation and ability to deal with stress.
First, there’s the obvious: Making tracks on a bike is pretty much the opposite of lounging around, doing nothing. Further proof that being a cyclist can give you a get-up-and-go attitude: One study found six weeks of low- and moderate-intensity exercise slashed feelings of fatigue and upped energy levels.
6. It makes you more fun to be around
Nobody likes to hang out with a downer, and multiple studies shows cycling can give you a big boost in mood. One study found that people with depression who hopped on a stationary bike for just 15 minutes had a decrease in cortisol, the stress hormone.
7. It makes you less likely to be a rage-filled jerk on the road
When you’re riding, you appreciate considerate drivers who give you plenty of room in the shoulder, check their rearview mirrors before swinging open car doors and don’t cut you off when making a turn. Because of this, you pay your fellow cyclists the same respect when you’re driving. What’s more, when you’re a cyclist, you’re more likely to bike commute — which means you’re less likely to sit in soul-crushing, anger-producing traffic.
8. It teaches you how to meditate
The benefits of meditation are practically endless, with research showing it does everything from increasing self-awareness, concentration and happiness to reducing stress, anxiety and even unhealthy food cravings. Yet plopping down on a meditation cushion doesn’t come easy for everyone — especially at first. So, hop on your bike for a moving meditation. After all, riding can help you focus on your breath, quiet thoughts that aren’t serving you and be present — all without forcing yourself to sit still in a cross-legged position.
When you’re a cyclist, it’s less likely people will blame you for getting sick because you’ve got a good chance at staying healthier than your friends and family who don’t ride: Research shows that people who exercise for 30 minutes, five days a week, take fewer sick days than those who don’t.
Don’t want to toss and turn and wake up your sweet, significant other snoozing beside you? (Or, want to do your best to sleep through his or her loud, annoying snoring?) Riding your bike outside can help: Research shows daytime exercise helps you get your sleep-inducing circadian rhythm in sync and also reduces the stress hormone cortisol, which can prevent deep, regenerative sleep.