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gym,” explains the freelance writer and photographer. “I’m getting my exercise on my bike. I feel healthier and in bet- ter shape now.” Several studies show dramatic health benefits for bike commuters. The Archives of Internal Medicine reported that when University of Copenhagen researchers analyzed mortality from all causes in 13,445 women and 17,441 men, they found that non-bike com- muters, even those otherwise physically active, had a 39 percent higher mortal- ity rate during the 14-year study period than those that biked to work. In another study, researchers fol-


lowed 67,143 women in Shanghai (of whom more than 75 percent cycled)


Hop on a Bike and Go Lean and Green by Debra Melani


A Passion for Pedaling


Trading in the car keys for more two-wheeled time could curb many of society’s woes, from spiraling healthcare costs to deepening carbon footprints. Yet, the main reason many bicyclists love going for a spin is that it yields a greater sense of well-being and contributes to a healthier, more rewarding life.





know it sounds crazy to say that bicycling is a silver bullet for all of these things, but I think it is,” says Elly Blue, 34, author of the recently released book, Everyday Bicycling: How to Ride a Bike for Transportation. Blue’s life was transformed when she made a bi- cycle part of her daily world; so much so that she now dedicates her writing career largely to the subject. “Bicycling is just so much more


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rewarding than driving,” remarks Tammy Strobel, 34, who gained na- tional attention with her husband when they simplified their lives by building a 128-square-foot house. Cycling to work and to run errands was “a huge” piece of their transformation, even after the couple hauled their tiny abode from


Portland, Oregon, (where Blue also resides) to a cattle ranch in California. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans that generally bike to work grew by 43 per- cent between 2000 and 2008, a statistic that doesn’t surprise Blue. She first tried bike commuting after growing weary of relying on the bus system. “I got hooked on just how good it felt. It’s like flying.” Blue soon found that cycling was also a faster way to commute, re- storing control of her schedule, reduc- ing stress and boosting her happiness. Strobel, who adds that enjoying nature and increasing daily exercise are also cycling benefits, says it’s bolstered her happiness and quality of life. “I don’t have to spend time going to the


natural awakenings May 2013 27


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