If your wellbeing needs a boost, how about putting some pedal power in the frame? It’s Bike Week, and your chance to benefit from a be’spoke’ form of exercise that’s great for your physical fitness and mental health!
Every year, around a quarter of a million people join the national initiative, organised by Cycling UK. The aim is to introduce cycling into your everyday routine, whether popping to the shops, enjoying a leisurely weekend ride with family or cycling to your shifts as an agency nurse. Bike Week is the perfect way to join in social events, rethink everyday journeys and get around easily, all whilst getting into better shape and giving your mood a lift.
The benefits of cycling
Regular cycling can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke, as well as helping with weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. The NHS recommends that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week, such as cycling, brisk walking or vigorous gardening, whilst children should do at least one hour a day. Cycling to and from school or work can go a long way towards meeting this quota!
Cycling can also greatly improve mental health, reducing stress, depression and anxiety and boost the chemicals in your brain that make you feel happier. It’s also good for the environment by helping to combat pollution, as well as proving incredibly cost effective. Once you’ve invested in the right bicycle and safety gear, such as a helmet and high visibility clothing, it’s a remarkably cheap form of transport.
Cycling for beginners
But what if, like many adults, you haven’t ridden a bike since passing that Cycling Proficiency test in primary school?
The first thing is to make sure your bike is right for you. You don’t have to spend a fortune; Cycling UK recommends hiring one to start with, to find a model that suits you, or buying a second-hand bike. Make sure you learn basic maintenance skills and how to fix a puncture, and read up on road safety.
Practise on your driveway or local park before joining moving traffic on a road. Set yourself small targets of short distances and build up as your confidence increases. Wear comfortable clothing; again, you don’t have to splash out on expensive gear but do make sure any loose clothing is tucked in and can’t get caught in wheels or chains.
It always helps to start a new activity in good company, enabling you to motivate each other and keep the momentum going. Ask your family and friends to start cycling with you or see if there are any like-minded nurses at your hospital who travel in from the same direction as you. There are lots of cycling clubs across the UK, many of which will have beginners’ sections, with plenty of advice and local events on offer.
The shift work and long hours involved with agency nursing can make it harder to look after yourself than when working a regular pattern. To give your health a helping hand, read our small steps to a healthier you, as well as how to achieve a work life balance. At Richmond, we take pride in looking after our team and you can find out more about the pay and benefits of a Richmond Nurse on our website, as well as how to register with our agency.