The start of a new year, following the customary over-indulging on sugar and alcohol during the Christmas break leads many of us to make that well-worn new year’s resolution to ‘get back into shape’.
This often means plumping for a gym membership, or the purchase of an exercise bike or treadmill in the hope of starting the year on a healthier footing.
It isn’t going to work…
There are a number of problems with this, unfortunately. Firstly, a gym membership isn’t cheap. Even if you go to the International Pool in Cardiff Bay or one of the formerly council-run centres, you are looking at least £30 per month in membership fees. Some of the gyms attached to hotels around here are closer to £60 per month. Not only that, they’re an optional activity that can easily be pushed aside when more pressing commitments arise.
Secondly, fitness equipment for the home —exercise bikes, rowing machines & treadmills are also expensive, yes. However, it gets worse than that.
They are fundamentally BORING to use.
They’re not just boring on a superficial level, they are boring on a molecular and metaphysical level. Ok, perhaps we’re pushing it there… Let’s just agree that they are crushingly dull to use and likely to deter you after a very short amount of time.
This unfortunately condemns your new year’s resolution to failure before you even start. Simply put, it’s difficult to sustain something that is either optional or boring, or both optional and boring.
Now, ‘getting back into shape’ is not a particularly well-defined goal. How do you determine what that shape is? Do you want to get back to the ideal weight for your height? Do you want to look good on the beach? Do you want to get up and down the stairs without wheezing?
Set yourself a realistic goal —something that you can achieve in a couple of months. Then, set yourself a couple of stretch goals for later in the year. Give yourself a few days to think seriously about what these goals are and make them really specific.
If any of these goals involve losing weight; improving your cardiovascular health; or getting ‘ripped’ then you won’t be surprised to hear that cycling can help you with all three.
Of course we are going to say that, we’re a cycling website, but seriously it can. Obviously, like any exercise it needs to be paired with a good nutrition plan.
Change you can sustain
With a bike, some basic equipment and a small commitment to cycle to work, school or college on at least one more day per week than you do now you will be one step closer to achieving that goal.
If you don’t have a bike yet, many employers participate in the Cycle to Work Scheme or operate a salary advance scheme to allow you to purchase one. However, for the £60 you could have spent on a gym membership you could instead buy a new bike. £720 could buy you a nice aluminium road or cyclocross bike with a Shimano Sora groupset at any one of our local bike shops. You could also pick up a refurbished bike from Cardiff Cycle Workshop. You may even have money left over for a good D-Lock as well.
If you’ve not cycled for a while, the first few times may be tough, perhaps even scary. It does get easier though and you may start to notice the weight falling off —how much will of course depend on how far you have to commute, but you will be increasing your activity levels; boosting your metabolism and conditioning your body to be a more efficient machine for burning calories.
The great thing is, 2017 is shaping up to be the start of something exciting here in Cardiff. The consultation on the Cycling Strategy will open in the new year, but work is scheduled to begin on the new primary routes in the 2017/18 financial year (April 2017-March 2018).
This may well put a segregated cycle route within reach of your home, or your place of work or education. Wouldn’t it be fun to try them out?