RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Depending on how much you love your job, this may be good news or bad news: A Dutch study, just published in the journal Preventive Medicine, finds that people who bike to work normally take fewer sick days than their non-cycling coworkers. And that's not the only benefit of biking to work.
THE DETAILS: The Dutch study included 1,236 government employees who filled out surveys asking about frequency of bike commuting and the length and duration of their commute, along with other information about general health and physical activity levels. The participants were then whittled down into two different groups: non-cyclists and people who cycled to work either 1.2 miles four days per week or 2.0 miles three days per week. Researchers compared the survey responses with company absenteeism records and found that the cyclists were absent from work, on average, one day less per year than non-cyclists. Cyclists also experienced significantly fewer chronic health complaints, despite the fact that the average bike commute lasted just 20 minutes one way on average.
WHAT IT MEANS: The point is, it doesn't take much exercise to make a significant and positive impact on your health. In fact, studies have found that just 10 minutes of exercise a day (about half as much time as the average commute in this study) can trigger health benefits, such as improved heart health and increased metabolism. Here are six strategies to help you pedal your way to fewer sick days and better overall health.
#1: Ease into it. In this study, the cyclists commuted by bike three or four days per week, but there's no need to start so ambitiously. Set a definite start date, then figure on one or two days a week in the beginning. And try these suggestions for staying fresh after a sweaty morning ride.