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Bike to Boost Mood, Beat Obesity

With gas prices continuing to climb, May’s National Bike Month and Bike-to-Work Week (May 16 to 20) never looked like a better idea! In addition to saving money, commuting by bike can lower your weight and boost your spirits.

A study of 11,000 people in Atlanta found that time spent in your car significantly raises your risk of obesity — an increased 6% risk for each hour spent driving. While getting where you’re going on your own steam may take more time, you’ll burn approximately 500 calories an hour if you bike it, and about 300 calories an hour if you walk.

Bike riding also boosts your body’s natural levels of anandamide — a compound that produces effects similar to the psychoactive chemicals found in marijuana — contributing to the feelings of euphoria many long-distance runners and bikers describe. Researchers speculate that you need at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise to trigger the release of these compounds and the associated sense of well being.

Of course, in addition to biking’s many physical and psychological benefits, few workouts do more to tone your lower body, letting you lift your self confidence while firming glutes and thighs.

Published May 2, 2005

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