Healthy Lodi Initiative: Pedal your way to a healthier you

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The Healthy Lodi Initiative has been offering tips and suggestions to our community on how we can all improve our overall health. Adding bike riding to your routine can also improve your overall health.

While it's true there are many reasons why people stop riding a bike, here are several positive reasons to start pedaling again.

It's really good for your heart.

Riding 20 miles per week on a bike can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by 50%. Overall, cycling can improve cardiovascular fitness, lower blood pressure, boost energy, build muscle and improve coordination.

We can learn from our children; cycling to school has been an integral part of successful strategies to decrease childhood obesity.

Boost your immune system!

Bike riding or other moderate exercise can boost your immune system so you can beat off colds and minor infections easier than if you are sedentary.

Cycling is low-impact.

Pedaling is kinder to your joints and your body. A 2014 study went as far as to say riding a bike is actually better for you than running. Runners are more likely to suffer long-term damage and inflammation that would have been avoided on a bike.

The exact calories burned varies between each person, their speed and topography, but on the average, cycling burns as many calories as jogging with significantly fewer negative impacts to joints.

Biking makes you happier.

Numerous studies have shown that daily exercise can reduce stress, alleviate symptoms of depression, improve sleep patterns and reduce anxiety.

Biking gives you a chance to connect with your surroundings and others who are out walking and biking. It's an opportunity to spend quality time with your family. Bike riding is something the whole family can do together, from kids to grandparents. It's a great family adventure.

Biking saves everyone money.

A 2011 study in Portland, Oregon by the Journal of Physical Activity and Health determined that Portland residents could save between $388 million and $594 million in individual health care costs by 2040 because of the city's increased investment in bike infrastructure, resulting in overall improvement in its population's health due to bicycle riding.

Biking makes you smarter.

Research has proven that moderate daily exercise can prevent cognitive decline, sharpen memory and learning and improve overall brain performance.

Bike riding is not only really good for you, it's also really good for the planet.

An estimated 70% of all car trips could be made on a bike in less than 20 minutes. With 30% of all greenhouse emissions attributable to motor vehicles, swapping out car trips with bicycle trips can help improve our air quality, improving our overall health.

Rates of childhood asthma are particularly high in the San Joaquin Valley and our county. Reduction in pollutants from automobile exhaust is an important step to prevent asthma attacks in children and adults who suffer from this disease.

Whether you bike to work or school, ride to save money or time, to improve your health or the environment, or simply to explore the wonderful routes in the Lodi area, riding your bike is a positive all the way around.

Kathryn Siddle is the president of Bike Lodi. For more information, visit www.bikelodi.org. The Healthy Lodi Initiative team helps connect residents and employers with community resources and tools to work toward improved health. For more information, call the Chamber at 209-367-7840 or visit www.healthylodi.com.

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