Leaves are budding on the trees, daylight is with us just a little bit longer, and you’re itching to enjoy the fresh air and get some exercise.  The arrival of May brings with it National Bike Month, so break out your helmet and pedal your way to health and wellbeing.

And we’re not the only ones who enjoy a velo escape.  According to The League of American Bicyclists, “the share of Americans commuting by bike has grown by 47 percent since 2000. Bicycle Friendly Communities, including Washington, DC, Oakland, Denver, Austin, Lexington, KY, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Anchorage, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Tulsa, and Kansas City, MO, have more than doubled their bike commuter share since 2000.”

Need a reason to get on your bike?  We’ll give you five . . .

1. Cycling bears a multitude of cardiovascular benefits, including decreased cholesterol, lowered blood pressure, and a reduced risk of coronary artery disease.  Plus, a vigorous ride sheds calories and contributes to weight loss.

2. Gradually increasing the length of your ride will build endurance and stamina.  Not only will you improve your cardiovascular fitness, but you’ll strengthen muscles used for other types of activities such as running, swimming, and dancing.

3. Biking, whether for leisure or as a means of commuting, lowers stress levels and enhances your mental health and wellbeing. This type of cardio exercise also helps you to sleep better and feel more energized during the day.

4. While many of us turn to the gym to burn calories and build cardio endurance, getting outside every few days on your bike can be a great way to expose yourself to a little sunlight, which delivers much-needed Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps to maintain adequate levels of calcium in the blood, which is a contributor to bone health, and has also been shown to reduce risks of cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases.

5. Biking is social! You and your family can easily make an afternoon of exploring a local bike trail and packing a healthy picnic. It’s also a great way to explore your area’s bike paths with friends, or even participate in a bike-a-thon for charity.

Whether you’re sporting a brand new Cannondale or an old bike from your college days, take it to your local shop for a tune-up and hit the road. National Bike Month boasts the perfect May weather for a long ride that will pay off in terms of your fitness goals, general health, and overall wellbeing.

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