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Skip the gym and get healthy on your commute

By Anne Treasure - 8 November 2017 9

Man on bicycle in the City

Ditch the gym membership: losing weight is as easy as riding a bike!

A recent study has shown that riding a bike to work can help you lose as much weight as a high-intensity gym work out.

The study from the University of Copenhagen demonstrated that for overweight and inactive people, a bike ride to and from work is an effective way to lose fat mass.

“This is good news to the many overweight people who may not have the time or inclination to join a fitness centre, because they also have to pick up their children and cook dinner after work,” said Professor Bente Stallknecht, one of the authors of the study.

“Our results show that it is possible to combine transport to and from work with effective physical exercise.”

More Canberrans than ever are riding bikes for transport. Recently-released Census data showed that Canberra leads the nation in active commuting, with 8.4 percent of us riding or walking to work.

Yet the data also showed that the ACT had a 5 percent jump in the number of motorists, with a huge 74.9 percent of the population using cars to get to work.

Cars are bad for the environment, parking is limited and expensive, and the social benefits of driving are nil. Yet three-quarters of Canberrans rely on motor vehicles to get to work, for shopping, ferrying the kids around and running errands every day.

Many point to Canberra’s widespread layout and hilly environment as a reason that they choose to drive everywhere.

That is where e-bikes can help. E-bikes that use a pedal-assist system can bring many of the health benefits of regular bicycles without the worry of turning up to work late and sweaty.

Pedal Power ACT is coordinating a come-and-try day for the e-bike curious on Sunday 19 November, in conjunction with Canberra Urban Adventures and Pushys. They hope that when people are given the opportunity to try an e-bike they will see how easy it makes cycling around our hilly landscape, and maybe even try riding to work a couple of times a week.

Canberran commuters are encouraged to sign up to Cycle Works throughout November and set a personal goal to ride to work a certain number of times a week. Participants from the first Cycle Works challenge in April have reported seeing the benefits of regular active travel.

“The April Cycle Works got me back on my bike commuting to work,” said participant Mark Kettle, who kept up the habit and has been riding to work 3-4 times a week since April.

“The benefits have been great, I lost 9 kilos, saved a bucket on parking and arrive at work happy.”

What keeps you from riding to work in Canberra? Is it the distance, the hills, fitness, do your parenting duties stop you from riding, or is it something else?

Anne Treasure is the Communications Manager for Pedal Power ACT. She writes on bike riding in the ACT from the perspective of someone who rides mainly for transport. 

What’s Your opinion?


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9 Responses to
Skip the gym and get healthy on your commute
carnardly 11:56 pm 09 Nov 17

dungfungus said :

“Yet three-quarters of Canberrans rely on motor vehicles to get to work, for shopping, ferrying the kids around and running errands every day.”

.

and how many of these families COULD manage a proportion of trips without a car. local shopping, one parent riding to work etc. How many families have never thought outside their own square before. they drive *because* they always have, and nothing more.

ever noticed how many cars doing along the roads have only the driver and no passengers? plenty!

Holden Caulfield 1:25 pm 09 Nov 17

I’m all for riding to work as a form of exercise and certainly happy to support any initiative that aims to improve the health and fitness of our community in a broader sense.

Indeed, I ride to work myself most days, in part for the exercise benefits being discussed here and also as means of getting exercise that doesn’t involve exposure to a commercial gym.

But a small tip, if I may, it may be better if you don’t inaccurately and needlessly bash cars like this comment does…

“…the social benefits of driving are nil.”

I understand there may well be a definition of “social benefits” that I am about to be made aware of, but by my definition it is a complete falsehood. In addition, a comment such as will likely further alienate your target audience, rather than encourage them to take up cycling.

The cycling v motorist debate is already pointless enough as it is without a peak cycling body adding further fuel to the fire.

Anne Treasure 12:49 pm 09 Nov 17

scentednightgardens said :

There’s no doubting the healthy benefits of cycling and great points made by Anne. If getting people out of cars is a fundamental part of the main game, and we want to make that transition easier for people, shouldn’t we be talking about e-scooters too? My understanding is that they are still unlawful unless on private property, but ‘segways’ are now conditionally permitted on footpaths and shared paths. Lots of cities around the world seem to happily permit e-scooters on footpaths and shared-paths, as long as the e-scooters are speed-limited and stay off the road. Anne, I was wondering whether Pedal Power is supportive of e-scooters as part of the bigger picture too?

Interesting question. I think that would be one we’d need to take the Pedal Power ACT board for decision. Pedal Power ACT’s mandate is to get ‘more people on bikes, more often’, so… do scooters count as bikes?

Seems like it is a question that has been asked before: https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2014/01/do-electric-scooters-belong-bike-lanes/8125/

scentednightgardens 11:39 am 09 Nov 17

There’s no doubting the healthy benefits of cycling and great points made by Anne. If getting people out of cars is a fundamental part of the main game, and we want to make that transition easier for people, shouldn’t we be talking about e-scooters too? My understanding is that they are still unlawful unless on private property, but ‘segways’ are now conditionally permitted on footpaths and shared paths. Lots of cities around the world seem to happily permit e-scooters on footpaths and shared-paths, as long as the e-scooters are speed-limited and stay off the road. Anne, I was wondering whether Pedal Power is supportive of e-scooters as part of the bigger picture too?

Anne Treasure 8:09 am 09 Nov 17

Lucy Baker said :

How does riding an electric bike and “avoiding sweat” make you lose weight?

I rode my e-bike into work this morning – the trip is around 14km each way, with several hills. On a regular bike it would take me over an hour, but my e-bike makes it a much more reasonable 35mins door to door. It’s the only way I can consider riding a bike to work, and getting a bit of exercise on my commute. Pedal-assist e-bikes don’t take the work out of riding, they just make it a bit quicker and easier – particularly on the uphill segments.

But don’t trust anecdotal evidence, have a read of this: https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/07/06/the-surprising-health-benefits-of-an-electric-bike-2/

Anne Treasure 8:04 am 09 Nov 17

Quiet round of applause for these answers, thank you!

Bolbi said :

Lucy, you can still increase calorie burn without sweating. A pedelec, which requires you to pedal, smoothes out hills but doesn’t eliminate them, is certainly more energetic than driving.
Dungfungus, I won’t waste my time letting you know when a bike is a car because that should not be the aim. The important thing is that whether or not it can be a suitable substitute for some cases. Maybe you won’t use it every time, but if it can be used for some cases then maybe it is worthwhile. The world isn’t black and white, it has many wonderful shades.

Bolbi 7:41 pm 08 Nov 17

Lucy, you can still increase calorie burn without sweating. A pedelec, which requires you to pedal, smoothes out hills but doesn’t eliminate them, is certainly more energetic than driving.
Dungfungus, I won’t waste my time letting you know when a bike is a car because that should not be the aim. The important thing is that whether or not it can be a suitable substitute for some cases. Maybe you won’t use it every time, but if it can be used for some cases then maybe it is worthwhile. The world isn’t black and white, it has many wonderful shades.

dungfungus 12:38 pm 08 Nov 17

“Cars are bad for the environment, parking is limited and expensive, and the social benefits of driving are nil. Yet three-quarters of Canberrans rely on motor vehicles to get to work, for shopping, ferrying the kids around and running errands every day.”

When a bicycle is invented that does everything a car is needed for let me know.

Lucy Baker 9:15 am 08 Nov 17

How does riding an electric bike and “avoiding sweat” make you lose weight?

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