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  1. #1
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    Health benefits of Commuting...

    So I was just curious what health benefits others have seen from cycling. I bought a bike last February, and a few weeks ago I committed to commuting full time. One of the biggest reasons was my need to lose weight and improve my overall health. My commute is only 3 miles one way, so I have begun to take the long way home a couple of times a week. (8 miles one way over some hills).

    What health benefits have you seen from your commute (or cycling in general)? For those who started recently, how long before you started to notice a change in your body?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    winter is comming BenyBen's Avatar
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    I think the major factor that pushed me into biking is that I had an incredibly high blood pressure, and I had been doing nothing but sitting on my backend @ a computer chair for like 5 years and eating really bad. I started getting some really troubling signals from my body, such as seeing stars and unable to stand after helping my brohter in law removing snow from his driveway in sping...

    I jumped on my bike as soon as I could, and the effect were noticable 3 weeks in. It was hard, and my muscles were still getting used to it, but I was feeling like I could breathe more, and like I could climb stairs more easily. I never gauged myself with my weight, but always kept note of how much easier it was to do things after every passing weeks. I am still somwehat overweight after my second sumer, I guess It's because I don't eat that well, but I am much stonger, and i'm def able to rely on my leg muscles now. And i feel so much better.

    Not to mention that along with medications, biking helped attain a normal blood pressure.

  3. #3
    Senior Member rykoala's Avatar
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    I've been commuting on bike since May, and went full time (as opposed to 2-3 days a week) about a month ago. WOW what a difference. I've dropped 30lbs between better eating an cycling to work and back. For me its 5.5 miles each way. I can take the long way home if I want (7 mi).

    My blood pressure has dropped. I can climb stairs and I'm still pretty big but its alot easier than it used to be. I can actually function at the top of the stairs now. My legs are slimmer and MUCH stronger. I still have a long way to go though.

    Most of all, drink lots of water and watch your diet and you'll see results FAST, mostly in how you feel, and you'll probably drop a few pounds too. Keep it up!

  4. #4
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    Hello Bretj -- I'm a full-time commuter (14 miles a day) also. Not only does it keep me in shape, I eat a lot healthier during the day knowing I've got to bike home!! You mention weight-loss as one of your goals, feel free (if you haven't already) to hope into our weight-loss thread Weight Loss Club.

    -GS

  5. #5
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    Riding in all weather through the winter seems to keep colds and flu at bay. If the alternative is public transport, then it keeps you away from warm, damp, germ-filled places. You can actually see the infection travelling up a London Underground carriage.

  6. #6
    'Bent Brian
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    Health benefits? How about BP 15 down and cholesterol 30 down with no change in diet. Weight loss was unknown and the doc wouldn't tell me! (couldn't trust the scales at home). This was after about a month of commuting 3-4 days a week.

    'bent Brian

  7. #7
    Senior Member Tree Trunk's Avatar
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    I have been commuting for 10+ years. I am finishing up five years perfect attendance in a row -- that's mainly a result of committing 100% to bicycle commuting. I've not taken a personal day for sickness the entire time I have been cycle commuting. Cycling's benefits go beyond the obvious physical benefits -- I don't know how many times I have left work in a funk and left that funk somewhere on the road between work and home. Getting rid of that stress has a positive physical effect, also.

    I started cycling 12 years ago to compliment a diet. I lost 40+ pounds in a very short period of time.
    There have to be bicycles in heaven!

  8. #8
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    My goal is 50 straight working days with no car. When I get to 50, then I will bump it up. It is nice that I only live 3 miles from work so that when I am sick or tired I take the short route, and then on other days I can take the long route.

    Bikes. Good for the body. Good for the soul.

  9. #9
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brentj

    What health benefits have you seen from your commute (or cycling in general)? For those who started recently, how long before you started to notice a change in your body?
    Since '98 I've been trying to take better care of myself in general and a big part of that has been commuting regularly. I started riding my bike to work because I wanted to compete in a triathlon and I discovered that it was a lot easier to get on my bike after work if it was right there, rather than taking the bus home then changing and then finally riding.

    And I liked it so much I started riding to work nearly everyday because it saved so much on bus fare or parking fees. I still mix in my training with commuting. I like to say that I've got a 30 mile commute even though I only live 4 miles from the office. So, keep taking detours!

    Anyway, here's the health benefits I've noticed: I'm 26lbs lighter than in '98, back down to my college weight. My resting heart rate is 44, my bp is 115/71, my bodyfat is 9%, and I can't remember the last time I called into work sick.

    The bike is a magical machine. It moves you through space and back in time to when you were strong and fit.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  10. #10
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    I started biking to work this past May - initially it was twice a week for the 25 mile round trip commute, and now it's up to 4 times a week.

    I sold one of our cars and put the money into buying a decent road bike for commuting.

    I turned 40 this year and the nature of my job (sales of specialized communications equipment) meant that I spend 40 plus hours in front of a computer screen. Biking was able to place me back in time to the days when I was active and strong, and had the endurance of a long distance athlete.

    I dropped 15 pounds to 160 lbs, gained back my old aerobic capacity, and watched gleefully as my legs became muscled and wiry again.

    Then three weeks ago, I herniated a disc in my spine doing something stupid (bad bio-mechanics in trying to get a canoe down off of a roof rack). I've been hobbling with a cane, chowing down on Tylenol 3, and haven't been able to ride.

    However, the doctors and physiotherapists have told me that my injury is healing three times faster than usual for a person of my age because my level of baseline fitness and strength was better than most. For that I can thank bike commuting.

    The docs have cleared me to get back on my bike for short rides in one week. Yeah babay - I'm counting down the days.


    George

  11. #11
    Redmond rider tjjohnson's Avatar
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    I have been commuting for about 2 months now. anywhere from 2 to 5 days a week, depending on if I can get out of bed and out the door before one of my daughters wakes up. :-)

    So far I know I have lost 1 pant size. And 41 days ago I decided to quit smoking...

    So the benifits to me is the abiltiy to grow old and watch my kids grow up. :-)

  12. #12
    Virtulized geek MsMittens's Avatar
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    I've seen some great health benefits of commuting. I've lost 40lbs from last year (May 2003 to present). On top of that in 1994 I was diagnosed with Mild Asthma (exercise and allergy induced). Over the years I've had a few bad attacks. Since getting back into serious commuting rides, I haven't once been out of breath or felt like an attack was going to happen (this included me doing a tour -- Toronto/Ottawa/Montreal -- where the first day was 32 C with a humidex of 40C!)

  13. #13
    The 'net ruined cycling ajkloss42's Avatar
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    I've been doing 24 miles a day, 5 days a week, for just over a year. I had 3 months of 2-3 commutes a week to train in, and a handfull every month for the six months before that. I'll just add to the themes others have already stated:

    1. weight: dropped 30 pounds, 25 to go

    2. cardiovascular: no doubt much better. Last summer I was on a vacation in the Caribbean (bare-boat charter) with friends and family. I didn't bother with a snorkel or mask and just swam around with goggles on to see the fishies and so on, and didn't have too much trouble keeping up with the fin-users.

    3. Stress. I was having mild panic attacks and irregular breathing due to stress from employment and so on. I am confident I'd be hauling in the long-term disability insurance if I hadn't started riding the bike. As someone said above, somehow you manage to leave that bad day at work on the roadside on your way home.

    4. Community. I've made a bunch of new friends and met a bunch of "interesting" people through cycling. Several other friends of mine who I had someone fallen out of touch with independently started commuting around the same time I did. We now see each other more and have something new to talk about.

    5. Diet/nutrition. It's easier to eat well when you aren't driving. Heading out to Taco Bell isn't much of an option when all the fast food is a few miles away and in an area with poor bicycle access. I'm eating a lot more so it's more practical to keep food stocked and eat more home made stuff without getting sick of it. Making a whole chicken for myself isn't really a bad idea anymore, as it'll be gone after two days of sandwiches. I like how it feels to go fast on the bike so I'm willing to make some sacrifices to help the biking.

  14. #14
    contrarian lala's Avatar
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    Well, I got fat when I stopped commuting, so I musta got thin when commuting!
    Higher ground for the apocalypse!

  15. #15
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    I've seen it in the last seven days alone. For the last week here we've had an unseasonally strong wind from the north. Riding into it all last week to work seems to have made me noticeably stronger. Now let's multiply that by the number of years I've been commuting...
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
    "We invite everyone to question the entire culture we take for granted." - Manic Street Preachers.
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  16. #16
    Vermonticus Outdoorsus CommuterKat's Avatar
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    I have been commuting most days of the week for almost a month now, and have seen the weight melt off, the muscles tone up quicker than I even did while using the weight machines at the gym, my pulse rate and blood pressure have all gone down, and I am so much less stressed out than I ever have been. On the other hand, I constantly battle hand/finger numbness, knee pain, and general tiredness from overdoing it. The downsides are definitely worth the gains though!
    "Methinks my own soul is a bright invisible green" H. Thoreau

  17. #17
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterKat
    On the other hand, I constantly battle hand/finger numbness, knee pain, and general tiredness from overdoing it. The downsides are definitely worth the gains though!
    Could it be your riding position? Sounds to me like you might be a little low in the saddle. Ideally your fee should be able to reach the bottom of the downstroke with your knee almost (but not quite) totally straightened.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
    "We invite everyone to question the entire culture we take for granted." - Manic Street Preachers.
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  18. #18
    Vermonticus Outdoorsus CommuterKat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L
    Could it be your riding position? Sounds to me like you might be a little low in the saddle. Ideally your fee should be able to reach the bottom of the downstroke with your knee almost (but not quite) totally straightened.
    Nope, I have checked this, and when my peddal is down, my leg is almost extended. If I hang my heel off the back, I can lock my knee straight. I have tried moving the seat forward, and raising the stem, and then slowly sliding the seat back to the original position bit by bit to find the perfect combination, and it still happens. I have pretty much learned to live with it at this point.
    "Methinks my own soul is a bright invisible green" H. Thoreau

  19. #19
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    I like to push myself on almost every ride and my thighs that used to be flubby about 6 months ago are now rock hard, I can't pinch any skin or fat off em.

  20. #20
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    In late March I got my bike and started commuting. At first my goal was to do my 22 mi RT commute 2x week and now I've only missed like 3 days since Aug 1 due to appointments I needed a car for. I've got about 2700 miles on the bike so far.

    I wasn't in bad shape in March, but since then I've dropped 25# and am back to the weight I graduated college at. I'm off the blood pressure med I was on and my bp is 115/75. I want to get another cholesterol check ... last one was 175 last Feb.

    I definately notice the increased leg strength and muscle tone, and others do too. A couple of weeks ago I was in a bar talking to a younger girl. When she turned to leave she playfully smacked my butt... she stopped, turned around and gave me the once over and said NICE A$$

  21. #21
    winter is comming BenyBen's Avatar
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    I went to get a blood sample taken yesterday, related to my blood pressure...
    Bassicaly, My condition has changed, and my blood now is more or less normal. The doctor attributes this to the exercise, and the fact that I've been losing weight (though slowly).

    Lately, I started taking half my blood pressure medication because it was going too low. I think I'm slowly reversing my condition. Which is a gr8 feeling.

    From 176/120 (april) to 120/80 (this morning).

  22. #22
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    Well, I have been commuting every day for three weeks now. Guess what? I gained 5 lbs. Hmmm. I guess it is time to be tighter on the calories and increase the mileage. I had been doing 3 miles to work in the morning and then 8 coming home. Maybe I need to do 8 both ways. Something has to work. Right?

  23. #23
    winter is comming BenyBen's Avatar
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    Maybe you gained muscles? I gained weight when I first started, perhaps because those muscles were all but inexistant???

    Don't watch weight too much when you first start. Focus on how it makes you feel, and how much easier it is. That worked better for me, as it was easier to get encouraged about what I did. The scale-watching put me down a lot @ first.

    The 8 miles you do @ night is okay. If you do a one way 30 minutes commute 5 times a week, I think you should get benefits out of it. though if you can, 2 sets of 8 miles will def be better for you.

  24. #24
    No pain, no gain. PainTrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brentj
    I gained 5 lbs.
    That happened to me as well. I believe you are seeing the effect of increased muscle density in your legs. I pay more attention to waist size and the fit of my clothes. My weight has since dropped. I started commuting full time in August.

    Also, as no one has mentioned it, and there's no 'adult' forum: my wife has noticed a positive side effect as well. If she's happier, I'm happier, oh yeah

  25. #25
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BenyBen
    I went to get a blood sample taken yesterday, related to my blood pressure...
    Bassicaly, My condition has changed, and my blood now is more or less normal. The doctor attributes this to the exercise, and the fact that I've been losing weight (though slowly).

    Lately, I started taking half my blood pressure medication because it was going too low. I think I'm slowly reversing my condition. Which is a gr8 feeling.

    From 176/120 (april) to 120/80 (this morning).
    Outstanding! You're a poster kid for the healthy way of living.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

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