According to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, approximately 70 percent of US adults are sedentary, meaning they do not get 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on a daily basis. This lack of general fitness plays into two national crises: ever-increasing healthcare costs and the epidemic of obesity. The total societal costs of obesity are estimated by the National Heart Association to be $117 billion per year, and obesity is second behind tobacco in US health risk factors, contributing to 300,000 deaths a year.
One way to stay fit is as simple as riding a bike. Everyday cycling, moderate exercise which leaves you breathing heavy but not out of breath, can be an effective component of a low-impact fitness regimen that can reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. Even a small amount of cycling can make a difference. One study in the British Medical Journal found that a 15-minute ride to and from work five days a week burns off the equivalent of 11 pounds of fat in a year. Cycling is also an activity that can be undertaken by just about anyone as part of a daily routine. (Numerous studies have shown links between increased strength and coordination in people over 65 who cycle and a decrease in rates of hip fracture.)
Aside from our personal health, riding bikes as a form of transportation makes for a healthy planet. Nearly a third of the gas used in the US goes for trips of three miles or less. Why not make a few of these trips part of your fitness regimen?