With roads becoming increasingly crowded and healthy living becoming ever-more important in the eyes of the general population, cycling to work has seen something of a resurgence. There are many benefits to a workforce which engages in such physical activity rather than cooping themselves up in  a car as they travel to and from the office, and as such cycling is an activity which employers should be looking to encourage.

One immediate benefit of cycling to work is the boost in happiness it brings. This is largely due to the way in which increased exposure to sunlight will help your body generate the hormone serotonin, which in turn generates positive emotions.

The aforementioned exposure to sunlight will also help promote a better night’s sleep, as proven by a recent experiment by Stanford University School of Medicine in which sedentary insomnia sufferers were tasked with cycling 20-30 minutes per day. At the end of the experiment it was found that participants took half as long to fall asleep as compared to before they took up cycling, and slept for a further hour each night.

According to Professor Jim Horne of Loughborough University’s Sleep Research Centre, this is because sunlight helps to re-sync your circadian rhythm while also reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is known to prevent deep, regenerative sleep.

As we’ve discussed many times before, better sleep and increased happiness will lead to a noticeable upturn in productivity.

Cycling also brings some rather more obvious benefits in terms of overall health. Research carried out by Dr Lynn Cherkas of King’s College London compared over 2,400 identical twins split into two groups, half cycling the equivalent of three 45-minute journeys per week while the other half remained largely inactive. Those who engaged in cycling were found to be approximately 9-years ‘biologically younger’ than their inactive counterparts, even after influencing factors such as BMI and smoking were discounted.

Furthermore, the British Heart Foundation estimates that occurrences of fatal heart attacks could be reduced by as much as 10,000 per year will the application of a little physical activity. Studies conducted at Purdue University back up this claim, finding that regular cycling could reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 50%.

If physical fitness is of little interest to you, there’s always the financial gain to bear in mind. Purchasing, taxing, insuring and fuelling a car soon becomes expensive, and bicycles provide a substantially cheaper option.

On top of all of this, I’m sure we are all well aware of the good that an increased uptake of cycling would do for our planet by substantially reducing the emissions associated with not only keeping a car running, but also in its manufacture. This point has been widely discussed all over the web, so I shall delve no deeper in this article.

Taking steps to actively encourage more of your workforce to take up cycling to work could lead to a much happier, healthier, and greener way of working, which in turn will provide a noticeable boost to productivity, staff retention, and health and fitness. Try to encourage such activity by displaying commonly used cycling routes in the office, and by providing adequate shelter for employees to securely store their bikes while working. If your budget stretches far enough it may also be worth investing in shower facilities, so as to allow employees to cycle to work without worrying about stinking up the morning meeting.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.
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