Another (surprising) reason to cycle

Instead of a Facebook like button there's a bike

We’ve all heard of the common reasons to cycle. It keeps you fit, you avoid the congested underground and it’s cheaper. However, there’s a new reason I just came across, that I was wondering if you guys would agree with.

I’m currently reading The Power of Habits. It’s a fascinating book that I’d recommend to anyone. A particular story that caught my attention was about exercise. The author, Charles Duhigg, calls exercise a “keystone habit”. He discovered that those who form a habit of exercise, or in our case cycling, start to form other habits more easily.

According to Charles Duhigg, “When people start habitually exercising, even as infrequently as once a week, they start changing other, unrelated patterns in their lives, often unknowingly. Typically, people who exercise, start eating better and become more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed.”

Therefore, if your aim is to learn Spanish, floss twice a day or drink less coffee, then you are more likely to be able to achieve it thanks to your cycling.

There’s a number of reasons for this, though the author doesn’t go in to them. I’d imagine that we like to be congruent in our decisions. As such your mind thinks “I cycle now, I’m a healthier person and a healthier person smokes less”.

However, I do also believe that someone likely to create a cycling habit, is perhaps someone also more likely to achieve changes in other areas of their lives.

Either way, it’s an interesting one to think about this Friday morning as you head in to work.

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

8 Responses to Another (surprising) reason to cycle

  1. kie7077 12/10/2012 at 10:29 am #

    Lol, I wish this stuff applied to me, grumpy shopaholic junk food eater that I am, cycling 35-40 miles a day doesn’t seem to have made an impact :-(

  2. kate 12/10/2012 at 11:13 am #

    I’d like to meet a cyclist whose credit card usage has decreased since they started ;) there’s always something else you really really need…

    • GrahamL 12/10/2012 at 2:11 pm #

      Most definitely . . . I must have spent more on accessories than the cost of both bikes put together.

  3. Andrew 12/10/2012 at 12:03 pm #

    Cycling certainly boosts my mood, which makes me less prone to comfort-eating (usually the least healthy form of eating I do!).

  4. June 13/10/2012 at 12:05 pm #

    I feel so much healthier since I start cycling. I no longer have the energy to comfort it. I now use all my energy cycling which is great!!!

  5. Gill 13/10/2012 at 6:31 pm #

    I don’t know about eating healthier – I eat more cake now than I ever did before I started cycling – but feel less guilty about it!

  6. Sisa 14/10/2012 at 6:00 pm #

    Since I started cycling I certainly eat healthier , have more energy always my general stress levels have gone down I`d say 80-98% which is no exaggeration. I cycle everyday to My Office to the shops / eating out etc . I should have cycled more in London as well .

    Cape Town SA.

  7. Joro 15/10/2012 at 11:25 am #

    How did Duhigg reach his conclusions? How did he measure ‘habit forming tendency’? From what you say he seems to be looking at the ease of habit forming among a group of people with the ‘habit of exercise’ compared with the ease of habit forming of another group without the ‘habit of exercise’; what were the population sizes, and how were they selected? And why is forming other habits more easily considered to be a good thing? … Presumably he means ‘good habits’ not ‘bad habits’? If we accept the speculation that one good habit, such as the habit of exercise, might lead to behaviour modifications that support that habit, surely this is a virtuous correlation rather than a causal connection? The desire or habit of exercising can be a powerful *motivation* for supporting behaviour such as giving up smoking, but it’s stretching things to say the one causes the other. A rigorous study seems hard to do so I guess I need to read the book, although I’m not encouraged by the blurb that describes the work as “new science” and “the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed”; at best it seems to be cutting edge social psychology (which might be called “new science”), and at worst embellished speculation.

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