Ever since first arriving in Copenhagen, Denmark, three years ago, I've been hooked on the city's thriving bicycle culture.
Coming from Australia, where hopping in the car just to go to the corner store wasn't unheard of, I hadn't been on a bike since I was a teenager, and I was initially terrified to jump on one again.
But biking has become my way of being, and I can count the number of times I've driven though Copenhagen on one hand. Even though I will be in the city for only a short time longer, I know that cycling is a lifestyle that I will take with me far into the future.
Here are seven amazing benefits of being on two wheels — I hope they tempt you to ride a bike on your next commute:
1. Biking is therapy.
Riding raises serotonin levels, and just 15 minutes on a bike can raise energy and vitality. Its effect on the brain is similar to that of antidepressants, and it activates your endorphins for a natural high.
2. It's great exercise.
Jumping on a bike contributes to our overall health and well-being. If you're looking to lose weight, biking is a simple way to add some extra exercise to your daily routine. I have a 15-minute biking commute to and from work, but that's an extra 30 minutes of exercise each weekday! Cycling also doesn't have to have much wear and tear on the body, so kids and adults of all ages can enjoy it.
3. It's environmentally friendly.
Cars are pollution factories. Aside from their toxic batteries and motor oil, a vehicle's manufacturing creates several tons of waste. Cars emit a cocktail of exhaust gases that is harmful to our bodies and our planet, whereas bikes are pretty risk-free environmentally. They also help reduce pesky noise pollution.
4. It's cheap.
No high insurance, no rising gas prices, no expensive repairs or even public transportation costs. Once you've made the initial purchase, bikes are free except for a few tiny maintenance tweaks every now and then.
5. It's quick and efficient.
Biking is often faster than walking, public transport, and even driving in some cases. It's easy to reroute your bike if need be in a crowded city or during rush-hour traffic. Not to mention, cyclists don't need to look for parking spots. Parking bikes is easy and free!
6. It's a fashion statement.
Cycling has become a "cool" activity, and there's no need to lose your sense of fashion just because you get about on a bike. You can wear your everyday clothes on your two-wheeled commutes. — I've even been known to ride my bike in heels on evenings out. I have also ridden through rain, wind, and snow — as the Scandinavians like to say, "there is no bad weather, just bad clothes." If you invest in a few good pieces, it's incredible how protected from the elements and warm you can stay.
7. It's an instant happiness boost.
I have fun on my bike, and it brings me an immense amount of joy. I notice things that I wouldn't if I was zooming by in a car, and an incredible sense of peace and calmness often comes over me when I'm out in the fresh air. Daily bike trips contribute to my overall happiness, and I'm confident they can add to yours too.
Photo Credit: Getty Images