Up with the sun, the breeze arose and left us all wheezing. The British air, which Robert Louis Stevenson once celebrated as “nimble, gay and gracious”, is now closer to the silent killer in John Carpenter’s The Fog than the divine gusts of a Romantic poem. More than 80% of the UK’s air quality zones exceed the legal limits for pollution, swirling with toxic fumes that inflame our lungs and shorten our lives.
So, avoid contributing to the problem by cycling. As well as being a proven weight-loss strategy that blasts away at your intra-abdominal adipose tissue, saddling up confers myriad benefits, from enhancing your digestion to making you smarter. (A University of Illinois study found that the boost to your cardio-respiratory fitness can result in a 15% spike in mental test scores.) Commuters who pedal to work also have a far lower risk of heart disease and early death than even pedestrians.
And, yes, we’ve all heard the urban myth that the cardio benefits of cycling are negated by the fumes you inhale, but a Leeds University study showed that peddlers are the commuters least exposed to pollution in a city centre.
With the COVID-19 crisis far from over, now is the time to hit the road on two wheels – there’s no better way to swerve the risks of contracting and spreading the virus. Among councils’ emergency measures are new cycle lanes and low traffic zones, making your journey easier than ever. We’ll see you at the bike shed.
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