Cycling To Work

Replacing the daily commute with cycling can be one of the easiest ways to get started on the path to a healthier routine. Getting started can be a little intimidating, so this mini-guide aims to provide a beginner's idea of how to get started.


Although the initial core investment can be costly (bike, helmet, gloves, lights), the savings on petrol / transport fares will soon counteract these costs entirely. For example, my monthly bus pass costs ~£80. I paid a total of £320 for all of my cycling equipment, therefore within 4 months of cycling to work every day my initial investment will be accounted for, and I'll be saving money daily.

Of course, this is only possible if the workplace is within cycling distance of home, say 10-15 miles. If cycling to work directly isn't possible, at least part of the commute can be cycled, possibly allowing a cheaper pass to be bought or less petrol to be used. Not to mention the fact that once the investment is made, the bike can be used for getting around any other time. Some governments also offer schemes to encourage cycling, such as the UK's "Cycle to work", offering tax-free bike purchases.


One of the biggest advantages to cycling is the incredible calorie burning it provides; around 700 calories per hour (depending on speed and weight)! Muscles in your core (stomach & chest) and legs will get quite a workout, with result being visible within a few cycles.

The calories burned quickly add up, with a 9 mile cycle to work providing 525 burned calories (again, depending on speed and weight), for a total of 5.25k per week! For the mathematically inclined, that's 21k calories burned & 360 miles travelled per month.

In addition to the cycling-specific health benefits, the usual exercise related benefits (longer life, happier, etc) all apply. Additionally, the burst of endorphins before work ensures you arrive full of energy and ready to work, which can be an absolute lifesaver for those of us with office jobs. A rarely mentioned benefit is the amazing feeling of saving money and improving your health before even arriving in the office. Contrasted to colleagues who have spent money on petrol to sit down for half hour, the benefit should be clear.

Potential Drawbacks

Punctures. They're absolutely the worst aspect of cycling, and ultimately happen to us all. I tend to find it easier to get a bike shop to do the replacement, as it gives me an opportunity to have a look around for new items, and ensures it will be done correctly. Many bike shops offer "care plans", whereby for a fixed monthly / yearly fee most repairs are discounted. That being said, punctures in the middle of nowhere will occur, and carrying a spare inner tube, tyre levers, and a mini-pump mean an on-the-go repair is possible. Practicing the tyre change option at home first is strongly recommended, as it's not the easiest process and can take practice to perform smoothly. Additionally, keeping tyre pressure high helps prevent some of the more common types of puncture.

Accidents. Hopefully you'll never encounter these, but it's important to be aware of the possibility. Whilst being aware of the Highway Code for cyclists is helpful, in general being predictable is the easiest way to avoid any accidents with cars / other cyclists. This means signalling before turns, not changing direction suddenly, and being aware of surrounding vehicles.

Getting hot and sweaty can also happen, especially during the summer. Ideally all workplaces would offer a shower, but we all know that isn't very likely. It's easier to just bring a change of clothes in a small bag and combine with liberal use of deodorant before and after. Remember to cycle a little slower towards the end of the route, to allow your body time to cool down and stop sweating. 

In conclusion, cycling is one of the most convenient and beneficial forms of exercise available, and cycling to work provides the perfect opportunity to start. Whilst getting into the habit can take effort and a bit of motivation, the health improvements are immediate, as is the core muscle-building.

Happy cycling!
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