Thursday, November 03, 2011

Why Cycle in India?

Because it’s the only form of cardio that does not mess with our daily routine. We have to go to work everyday. We have to transport ourselves. With petrol prices reaching the stratosphere and the government making its usual false claims that “The prices are the same here as everywhere else”, we all know that the salaries are not the same here as everywhere else to purchase precious fuel. And petrol prices in India as on today are the most expensive in the world.

Of course, there are other forms of cardio. Walking, swimming, tennis, squash, jogging, gym, treadmill etc. But all of these need you to take precious time out of your already stretched lives. And it becomes the least priority with the first thought being “I’m busy today. No time. Have a major delivery. Have to go to office quick. I’ll surely start tomorrow”.

To go to work, one has to step out of the house. And what better way to achieve this than the cycle?

So think about this:

  • A bicycle is the most efficient form of transportation invented by man. The humility with which it works in unison with our bodies to transport us is to be respected. It transmits power with negligible loss from our thigh muscles to the crank, then the chain and then the rear cartridge and finally the wheel. All other mechanical engines that run on organic fuels have significant losses along the combustion process in the form of heat, piston ring leakage, poor valve seals (wear and tear)
  • The fuel used in cycling is our burger, pizza, bajji and samosa laden calories which are put to good use for a change. This is the ONLY vehicle that makes us healthy in the process of transportation.
  • A bicycle is actually faster than other modes of transport in city traffic.
  • A bicycle strengthens us in the process instead of the opposite wear and tear in other mechanical engines.
  • Least of all, we’re doing mother Earth a favour. Less carbon di oxide, less air pollution, less weight on the roads. If you believe in Karma, you’re contributing here, even if it is miniscule
My office is 5 kms from home. Sounds small. And it is. I take a lengthier 10 km route to have fun and exercise. So I did an experiment. I walked, rode, biked and drove to the office to see how it would be. And following are the results:

Walk: It took me close to 40 minutes. Not much sweat. But a lot of time wasted. I could have jogged which would have made it in about 30 minutes but still a waste of time getting overly sweaty.

Cycling: It took around 15 minutes from door to door which was good.

Bike: Around 10 minutes from door to door. And spent about Rs. 12 worth fuel one way.

Car: Over 30 minutes. But oh boy! It was so comfortable. Air conditioning, music on, tapping on the wheel etc. And about Rs. 40 worth fuel one way through traffic and lights.

Looking at the above, the most value for money and the healthiest option is the good ol’ cycle. No nonsense and unstoppable.

A little update on our bodies now. As long as we’re below the age of 30, the body heals faster and recuperation happens. Above the age of 30, the body loses about half a pound of muscle each year and if they have not been exercised, then the loss is permanent. It is imperative that the heart and muscles are constantly exercised even if it is only 15 minutes a day of intensity.

Cycling is a stable and steady form of cardio which gently accelerates the BPM and promotes constant metabolism of fats and cholesterol. It is easy on the knees and for women, it is a fantastic way to delay arthritis post menopause.

Any form of cardio reduces the risk of lifestyle diseases by over 50%.

Just imagine for a minute, that a heart attack attacks a main bread winner at the age of 40. This is the age where there is a spouse, 2 children and ailing parents. The chart below will give a snapshot

Monthly status before heart attack
Monthly status for 2 months during and after heart attack
Groceries, Edibles, Rent
School Fees
Maid, Elec, Gas, Water, Utilities, Incidentals
Hospital Expenses



As you can see, the most dangerous aspect here is that the monthly income is reduced to zero (unless insurance is available) and the expenses go through the roof with the entire lifestyle thrown into jeopardy. Many a middle class family need to make permanent changes to their lifestyle if the bread winner succumbs to a debilitating disease.

Having good health is the first and foremost priority for anyone. When this is easily achieved by making one good change in our daily lifestyle then why not?

Yes, yes, the first thought will be “What will people think when they see me riding a cycle to work?”. Well, damn them. You’re not cycling to keep them happy. You’re cycling to keep yourself and your family happy. You’re doing this to keep fit and live a long healthy life without seeing the insides of a corporate hospital.

The advantages I am experiencing are:

  • My stamina has really improved. I am doing well with 6 hours of sleep.
  • I am able to run with children for a longer time as they’re upto it.
  • My blood cholesterol and lipids are well in control.
  • My heart is healthy. My lungs are taking deeper breaths.
  • My energy levels are fairly constant throughout the day.
  • I’m saving money on fuel.
  • I am NEVER stuck in a traffic jam. Haven’t been for 3 years now.
  • No bandhs, petrol strikes, etc affect me.
  • Vehicle maintenance requirement is at an all time low.
  • My neighbourhood kids have started calling me “bro” instead of “uncle”. This could interest you if you’re really age conscious. Me, I’d rather age gracefully.
  • My family is proud of me.
  • My BMI is at a perfect 21.9
  • I can break traffic rules and get away to some extent. I would NOT advise this though
  • I can run for a kilometer without panting. The BPM returns to normal in about 7 minutes.

Cycling helps release hormones called endorphins which release stress and make you feel good. It also releases adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine. These together help the body feel happy, reduce the effects of pain and very importantly, recover from mild depression.

Cycling like any other cardio/athletic activity increases the sex drive as it promotes blood circulation to every nook and corner of the body. Skin sensation is heightened and the overall increase in stamina helps in the act. I write this here because there have been numerous studies done to see whether cycling causes impotence or injuries in men due to the possibility of injuries on the genital areas because of the hard seat. Such statements are unfounded till date.

Cycling helps people stop smoking. The endorphins which are naturally secreted by the body act against the impulse to pick up the tobacco stick. For those who give up smoking, cycling helps them increase their lung capacity and overall intake of oxygen.

So get out there, get a cycle if you have a sedentary work atmosphere and get that heart pumping. You’ll never go back, I promise.

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