May 23, 2014

Bike into an Active Lifestyle

Getting a significant amount of daily exercise used to be a challenge for me, but when I got a new job in 2010, I started biking about seven miles to work. As such, a sizable dose of daily exercise became the norm rather than the exception. On the recreational side, I was really getting into touring and bike camping, extending my rides tens of miles and hours in the saddle, getting a feel for what I was capable of.
Around this time, I started tracking my physical activity in a log I have faithfully kept to this day. It can be easy to feel like you’ve been active when you’ve really been a couch potato. I know, I’ve been there. The log is not so easily fooled! 
Before the boost in activity from my longer bike commute, I struggled to meet my goal of averaging one hour of exercise a day. Days would go by with nothing to record in my log. Then when I felt motivated, I’d go to the UW-Madison rec center to pound out a few (boring) miles on the treadmill, journey on a long walk around town, do some yoga, or on occasion take my vintage Schwinn on what felt like an epic ride of 20 miles. Yet, I never created a habit out of any of it that amounted to much exercise - my log made that clear.
Since then, my experiences with biking have given me confidence to try new fitness activities, like long-distance running, bouldering, and CrossFit. Having established the habit of daily exercise has made it easier to integrate these new activities into my lifestyle, maybe like learning a second foreign language. 
Now I have no problem surpassing what were once goals I struggled to achieve. My exercise log is documentation of how far I’ve come and a way for me to celebrate my success. 
Try biking for transportation as the first step toward an active lifestyle. You don’t need to be in shape to get started, it’s easy to fit into your day, and it will make you feel good. Keep track of your progress. In the beginning, your bike may just get you to work - then see where else it takes you!

5 comments:

  1. I commute to work via bike too and while it's not that far, 2.8 roundtrip but it has lead me to consider joining a bike club and buying another bike just for the club.

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    1. Thanks for sharing! What kind of a bike club are you thinking of joining?

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  2. Really enjoy your blog. Just moved to Madison this March and the exercise community here was definitely a factor.

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    1. Welcome to Madison Chris! How are you enjoying biking around the city?

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    2. So far, so good! Very cool to see so many people around on their bikes. It was always inspiring whenever my family would visit. I haven't put as many miles in as I'd like yet, but we're still unpacking, relocating, getting settled into a new job, getting kids situated, etc. Need to stop making excuses though! :-)

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