Thursday, July 15, 2010

Why I ride my bike to work

A few reasons why I ride my bike to work, plus some other stuff.

1. It's good for my health. The 8-16 miles I bike in a day is good low-intensity movement (cardio... how I hate that term).

2. It's a great warm-up for a day of coaching. We start training sessions real early and if I'm not "going" in the morning, I'm gonna miss things and the athletes are going to sense my low energy. This could be a blog post in and of itself, but I'm starting to think that coaches should do an equal amount of warming-up as the athletes prior to each workout. The reasons are endless, but enhancing blood flow throughout the body and to the brain are going to sharpen many things. Increasing the release of certain neurotransmitters from movement is going to enhance cognitive function and warm the body temperature to increase nerve conduction velocity; I'm gonna be sharper and bring more "energy" to each session. The athletes are going to sense this energy or lack thereof; we're social animals and emotions flow osmotically from person to person and since emotions are the driver of motivation... well... this is pretty important.

3. It gives me a chance to feel the weather; the air temperature, humidity, cloud cover and wind. These things are going to have an effect on the athletes physiology for the workout and I can make decisions, or prepare adjustments, on the extents of things like the duration of the warm-up, volume and/or intensity of all aspects of training, and get a feel for the outcome of that days training. The environment has a greater effect on us than we often think. Atmospheric pressure can have effects on respiration, and this can have some pretty dramatic effects. This goes as far as the previous weeks/months weather, which can affect things like allergies or asthma. The list of physiological effects are great and things like mental states are not excluded... and sometimes mental states are the biggest factor. So as the bike ride gives me a chance to take in that days weather conditions, I also keep close tabs on the weather year round. I have my dad, a farmer, to thank for this; growing up with lots of talk and lessons of weather. Lots of factors to be considered and the environment ranks real high.

4. Directly related to the environment, I ride my bike to save on it. Sure it's minute, but if you want to change the world, you have to first change yourself. I hold myself responsible to try my best to do my part... which brings me to a current event issue, the Gulf oil spill. We can bitch all we want about the awefulness of this (which it is) and express all our anger toward BP, however, everyone of us is equally responsible. Even though I ride my bike to work, I still use a car, I fly (1-2 times a year) on commercial airlines, mow my lawn, use all the amenities of modern technology, hell, I even use a bike that had to be produced and shipped to me somehow. Now I am not taking sides in this issue, but we need to be aware of the entirety of the situation at hand. It's cultural, political, it's the ideologies that have led to our current situation. Again, it constitutes awareness and choices; like I said, if I want to change the world, I first have to change myself... that means you, me, us.

5. Related to number 4 and saving on the environment, it also saves me a lot of money. But maybe not, as it requires more energy from me, and makes me hungrier which costs more for food, which increases my consumption (which costs me money), which increases production, which increases pollution... and down the rabbit hole we go... hahaha!!!! The ouroboro of life; we need to choose our battles... I'll ride my bike.

(Speaking of saving me money, this is important for me as strength coaches don't make jack... at least for most of us... *ahem* big-time DI coaches. I'm not complaining... but I am. C'mon powers that be, PAY UP! I mean, jeez we're just strength coaches who only spend more time with the athletes than any other coach or athletic trainer, are expected to improve their performance and keep them healthy and injury free, be the first (athletic department personnel) on campus in the morning and the last to leave at night, and have no "off-season"... just to name a few. Like I tell folks, the only major difference between me as a strength coach and those that work for... nevermind.)

6. Riding my bike to work, I can take different routes and get a little off-road and get out into nature. I'm not going to go into much detail regarding the endless positive effects of nature on our health and wellness, but I am going to recommend an important book; "Last Child in the Woods" by Richard Louv.

To take a shot, it's our disconnect from nature that could be argued to be one of the deep roots of all our predicaments. We're animals just like all other animals and you rip an animal out of it's natural environment and you get problems. Zoo animals have many of the same problems we have in our society... so what are we? Zoo animals?

From wikipedia (scientifically "classy" I know):

Captive animals, especially those which are not domesticated, sometimes develop repetitive and purposeless motor behaviors called stereotypical behaviors. Examples of stereotypical behaviours include pacing around or self-grooming. These behaviors are thought to be caused by the animals' abnormal environment. Many who keep animals in captivity, especially in zoos and related institutions and in research institutions, attempt to prevent or decrease stereotypical behavior by introducing novel stimuli, known as environmental enrichment.

Weird. Sounds eerily familiar...

Ok... moving on...

7. Related to nature, riding my bike I get additional exposure to the sun. This can be tied into a lot of things health, not just vitamin D (which is important). Getting in the sun can go a long ways towards mental health and resetting circadian rhythms. Depression is an ever-growing issue and sun helps. Sleep disorders are another problem. Having trouble falling a sleep at night? Having odd sleeping patterns? Increased sunlight helps re-adjust or keep functioning naturally the suprachiasmatic nuclei (small region in the brain above the optic chiasm, optic=think eye) which controls circadian rhythms, the neuronal and hormonal activities that roll with a roughly 24-hour cycle. Lack of sunlight can throw these rhythms entirely out of whack. Trying getting more sunlight and see what happens.

8. Lastly, but in no way the least, by biking, I get the opportunity to say hi to folks. Maybe this helps towards enhancing community.

From my empirical experience (n=1), riding my bike is a good thing.



jleeger said...

Ok buddy, you got me! Going to start riding my bike to work!

jleeger said...

Ok buddy, you got me! Going to start riding my bike to work!

Aaron Schwenzfeier said...

I'm thrilled Josh. That's 2 of us.

Hope all is well.

jared said...

How does this work out for you in Dec and Jan? Or, Oct/Nov/Feb/Mar for that matter.....hahaha

Aaron Schwenzfeier said...

I nut up.

Ok, just for those comments I am going to ride my bike in each of those months... and in some of those months multiple times.

Finley Jones said...

Reason number 1 is probably the most beneficial among other reasons. This post can truly inspire readers to ride bikes on their way to work or simply as a part of their daily routine.