Riding a bike to work a great way to get in shape

Riding a bike to work a great way to get in shape

National Bike Month is always a big deal at Angie’s List. Each May, we embrace the Bike to Work events around the city. Last year, we won our division for the Indianapolis Bike to Work Day corporate challenge.

We have several staffers who ride their bikes to work daily, and we offer a bike-friendly work environment with indoor bicycle parking, lockers and showers on our campus.

Seeing these employees roll in wearing their helmets and kneepads got me thinking recently about the benefits of bike riding, along with the importance of having a safe and well-maintained bike.

With school out and spring giving way to summer, kids are whizzing around our neighborhoods. However, biking isn't just for children and fitness fanatics, and it's not just a once-a-year corporate challenge. Biking is good for the environment, your health and your wallet.

"I ride about 30 miles a week to and from work and ride my bike most days," says Angie's List software engineer Jon Nolen. "One of the reasons I looked at Angie's List for a job was because of how close it was to my house. My wife, Kindra, and I got rid of one of our cars and have been sharing one car for a year."

Angie's List Magazine senior writer Matthew Brady rides about 25 miles a week during the summer, in lieu of driving his car. "(That) doesn't sound like a lot, except that it means I'm not using my car at all," Brady says. "There were weeks last year when I never moved my car."

Graphic designer John Rau rides his bike to work to save money and the environment. "It also gives you a totally different viewpoint and experience in a city you may think you know completely," Rau says.

Some Angie's List employees who don't live nearby still split their commute, driving about halfway in before parking and biking the last half.

New cyclists can expect to see up to 15 pounds of weight loss in the first year of biking to work if they maintain their current eating habits, says Kelsey Taylor, an International Fitness Professionals Association Certified Trainer at Angie's List. They can shed 25 pounds if they improve their eating habits during that same year.

"People that bike to work can improve bone density and muscle tone," Taylor says. "Cycling is low impact and the rotary movement is optimal for people with knee or joint issues. The aerobic aspects of cycling have been shown to improve cardio pulmonary functions and are a recommended form of therapy for people with asthma, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease."

Before jumping on your bike and heading out, be sure to have the tires, brakes, gears, chains and handlebars inspected to ensure your bike is in good working order.

Most bike shops have repair technicians on staff who have the proper tools and training to give your bike a tuneup, add safety components or make major repairs. We have nearly 1,000 companies nationwide rated on Angie's List in our "Bicycles" category.

Once you're ready to hop on and roll, don't forget the rules of the road, wear your protective gear, be safe and have fun. Happy trails!

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