I arrived at work today to an email that simply said, ‘Hey Chrissy, we know you like to keep fit. Would you like to write an article on keeping fit and healthy?’ I think the fact I’ve been cycling to work for several years now and stuff my bike into corners of the office has been noticed by the team!
We do have quite an active tutor team and I’m sure in future articles I’ll pick their brains over what they like to do to stay fit and healthy. For me, its cycling so this article (and probably others!!) shall focus on cycling!
If you’re a regular cyclist I salute you…it’s great? Right!? However, if you haven’t cycled for years and are not interested in cycling at all…wait…hold on. Do not stop reading now…my mission in life is to convince you that you need a bike in your life! Even for those who are not as physically able as others there is a BIKE FOR EVERYONE! I’m convinced, much like the AAT, cycling is very inclusive…within reason ANYONE can do it!
Cycling will improve your health! We’ve all heard the ages old saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ pah forget apples, get out on your bike! I’m not suggesting we all cycle everyday but we all know 30 minutes of moderate exercise is good for us and for myself and my fellow cyclists we tend to take fewer sick days and are generally healthier than others who do not cycle so this is the best reason to start cycling – you will improve your overall health! We all know covid is still around in some form or another so it’s more important than ever to look after yourself, so along with the added physical health benefits you will notice an improvement to your wellbeing and mental health. Life is busy – look after yourself!
Cycling will make you smarter! So, OK this is not strictly true, cycling alone won’t turn you into a sudden genius however cycling is very good for brain power! You’re probably reading this because you study with us so it’s super important to recognise that adding exercise into your weekly routine is important. You’ll be able to clear the mind of any ‘brain fog’, making it easier to make decisions and process thoughts and ideas. Cycling will also increase the blood and oxygen flows around the body, helping functions such as memory – super important for exams!
So…oh what was I saying…? I forget (kidding!!!See what I did there?!) Cycling is FUN! You get to travel and just being outside is really good for you, we spend A LOT of time indoors. Especially working from home and studying online, we spend so much time indoors and unless you’re super lucky and work in a house overlooking a forest looking at trees and the great outdoors we aren’t seeing a lot of nature during our daily 9-5, so cycling helps you to get outside. Time spent in and around nature, woodlands, by the sea all of this is proven to really help the mind, reducing stress and anxiety.
So, after reading this if you’re totally CONVINCED THAT YOU NEED A BIKE IN YOUR LIFE then read on. Here are my 5 TOP TIPS and if after reading this you have decided to get a bike and cycle, please let us know! Send your cycling pictures we’d love to see these!!!
1. Get a bike
Ok so this sounds obvious but of course you cannot cycle if you don’t have a bike. I’m always being asked by friends to recommend a starter bike – now this is hard question to answer, bikes range from £100 to £10,000! Some people’s bikes are more expensive than the average car! So, I think the best place for newbies to start cycling is to hire, most hire shops have a great selection of hybrids, road, or mountain bikes even electric bikes.
Start off by hiring a) it is a relatively cheap way to get started and b) will start to narrow down the type of cycling that you enjoy, are you a relaxed cyclist enjoy flat routes and perhaps would suit a road bike, or perhaps you prefer heading into forests and prefer cycling rockier downhill sections? See below local recommendations for cycle hire.
2. Buy a bike
So, you’ve tested the waters, you’ve hired a bike and you LOVE IT! So, what’s next? Well, the cycle to work scheme is a great way to buy a bike and I’d recommend heading to the Cycle to work scheme website to see if you can use this to buy your bike it’s a government incentive that offers the most cost effective way to get cycling equipment, the scheme is set up by employers and goes through payroll salary sacrifice scheme meaning that you will not pay tax or national insurance on this element saving up to 43% on the cost of new bike!
If even after reviewing this, the prices are still out of your budget then perhaps you can connect with a local charity who may offer a recycled bike at a discounted price? For example, here in Exeter we have Ride on a local charity focused on people who want to ride more but either can’t because they don’t have access to a bike or they lack confidence with cycling, please visit their website below or search for local cycling charities in your local area.
3. Cycle with a friend or book cycling confidence classes and stay safe 😊
Cycling when perhaps you haven’t cycled for years is a bit scary, but like anything new the more we do it, the better we get! So either cycle with a friend so they can share their confidence or book a cycling confidence class, its really important to feel stable and confident on the bike along with wearing a helmet, putting on lights when cycling at night and wearing high visibility clothes, you need to look after yourself on the bike and so if you’re really not very confident and perhaps a bit wibbly wobbly then book a cycling confidence class. There are links below for Devon classes but follow the ‘find cycle training’ link below to find a course in your local area.
Also follow the highway code, if you haven’t been out on the bike in a while and are planning on heading onto roads and shared spaces, please have a quick read of the highway code with key cycling facts
4. Get out and cycle explore new routes!
The best thing about cycling is that our government wants us to cycle and have created a national cycling network along with a website called Sustrans with maps to the cycling network routes in and around our country. It’s great and you can look for routes that either are traffic free or plan specific routes or failing that simply get out and about and follow the blue signs in around your town and city marking the cycling network.
I’d also recommend heading to the website Komoot which has an online library of ready-built routes for you to follow, it’s great and you can also add in your own routes. Both websites have apps that you can download to use whilst out and about on the bike.
5. Finally, have fun!
- If after reading the above, you are still not convinced – see below a recorded timelapse of my commute look if you have 5 mins! 😊
For the best quality before playing the video click on the cog on the bottom right hand side of the video and select 1080p