Friday, February 3, 2012

Slow It Down for Easier Commuting

One of the primary reasons I've heard that people don't bike to work more often is the "need" for clothing changes once you get there. It's too much of a pain to carry clothes with you every day, or to take them to work ahead of time so you have something to change into when you arrive all sweaty from the exertion of riding, etc.

And there's a lot of truth to that - it can be a pain when you've just completed your sweaty, leg-burning ride to work and you're covered in perspiration, and have to face the day with tired legs and a warm body.

Well, all that speed that you're putting into your ride may not only be unnecessary...but counterproductive. Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy and the Mark's Daily Apple website, and an accomplished health and fitness professional, put out an article a number of years ago called "A Case Against Cardio (From a Former Mileage King)".

Sisson pulls together data and results from several studies with the determination that a slower, less strenuous pace of exercise is more beneficial and less stressful on the body than the normal standard of "just hard enough that you can still talk while exercising" standard that is commonly heard.  Keeping stress levels down, boosting fat-burning, and avoiding inflammation are all benefits that he mentions.

But another benefit that applies to bike commuters (and anyone who likes to exercise on their way to work, via walking, jogging, etc.) is that you don't arrive all sweaty!  You can ride in your work clothes, take it easy, enjoy the ride, and arrive in a much less-stressful and much less aromatically-repellent mode than you would had you "hammered down" the entire way!  And it's arguably better for you to do so, as Sisson points out.

So the next time you're riding to work, take your time a bit.  Enjoy the morning, relax a bit, and get where you're going a little bit more slowly.  Your morning routine will be easier, your laundry will be less, and your body may just thank you a bit more.

People, not speed.

2 comments:

  1. Agree, although the longer your commute is, the less practical that becomes. And while I can see this as effective in Columbus, where I live now (Raleigh) there's just no way, just chugging up a hill at the slowest possible pace (which is how I usually go up a hill) leaves me moist. And then there's the half of the year where just being outside doing nothing can leave you perspiring.
    Fortunately my workplace has a liberal dress code, and while I'd appreciate the ability to rinse off, usually a quick wardrobe change is all I require in the warm months, and in the cool months, the more strenuous parts of the ride are early on, so I can be dry and mostly presentable by the time I arrive if I slow down.
    Apart from health issues, it can just make sense from a time-management perspective. I can push myself and arrive five minutes sooner, and spend those five minutes cleaning up. Or take my time, enjoy the ride, and get straight to work.

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  2. Rob E, I totally agree. I'm a heavy perspire-er myself, and it's tough for me to arrive smelling like an angel. And that's where products like ActionWipes can come in handy. But riding slower does certainly help with that.

    And I also love your attitude on the health issues and time-management. You can stress your body AND your mind with too much haste in such cases - cortisol doesn't discriminate between physical and mental stressors!

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