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Two-Wheeled Wonders
Improve health and happiness – on a bike!

Get a bicycle. You will not regret it… if you live. ~Mark Twain, "Taming the Bicycle"

When the bicycle as we know it was first introduced in the 1860s, it was lauded as cost-effective transportation for the masses. Now, a century and a half later, over a billion bikes have been made – and have made their mark on their riders. The bicycle has proven to be a most marvelous invention, simultaneously practical and pleasurable, relaxing and aerobic. The simple act of riding a bike can improve your fitness and frame of mind. It’s no wonder H.G. Wells once wrote, “When I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.

Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride. ~ John F. Kennedy

Good for your Glutes – the Physical Benefits of Biking
Biking can do wonders for the body. It burns between 230 and 900 calories per hour depending on the biker’s size and speed. Whether out for an evening joy-ride or training for the Tour de France, biking exercises the large skeletal muscles of the body, especially the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. The rhythmic pattern of motion and alternating periods of rest and exertion make bicycling an excellent weight loss tool. Strength, stamina, lung health, and heart function have all been shown to improve with continued bicycle riding. Most dramatically, a Copenhagen University Hospital study found that consistent physical activity, including bicycling, lowered the mortality rate of people of both sexes and all ages by 39%!

Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling. ~ James E. Starrs

Magical for your Mood – the Emotional Benefits of Biking
The stress-relieving effects of bicycling can be experienced by both die-hard enthusiasts and Sunday riders alike. The rhythmic motion of biking puts the mind into a relaxed state – almost like an alert trance. The physical exertion of biking releases endorphins, much like the so-called “runner’s high.” In this combined state, the biker experiences clear headedness, a sense of freedom from daily stresses, and a feeling of general tranquility. Riders of all ages can experience the fun of biking first discovered in the training-wheels years. Cycling clubs, beautiful bike paths, and friendly competitions only sweeten the deal!

The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. ~Iris Murdoch

An Added Bonus – Going Green Each Time You Go Out
Although bicycling is the main form of transportation in many parts of the world, the USA’s love affair with gasoline-powered vehicles has kept it the leader in petroleum consumption. But the rise of global warming, as well as gas prices, seem to be providing a long needed wake-up call. In the last few years, Americans have felt ever-increasing pressure to “Go Green.” The best news is biking is, and has always been, completely earth-friendly. Choosing to bike your commute instantly reduces the output of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, hydroflourocarbon, and sulfur hexafluoride in the air. And, if that’s not enough motivation, a bicycle can travel almost 1,000 miles on the energy equivalent of one gallon of gas. That certainly beats the prices at the pump!

Use (or Lose ) Your Head
Before you hit the dusty trails or congested highways remember these safety tips:

1. Always wear a helmet. According to the Department of Transportation, between 45 and 88 percent of bike-related brain injury could be prevented by correct helmet usage. These injuries cost the injured around .3 billion a year!

2. Brush up on the rules of the road. Can you bike on one-way streets? Make right turns on red lights? Bike on the sidewalk? Each community’s rules vary so be sure to do your homework.

3. Schedule routine maintenance. Check your gears, tires, and brakes on a regular basis. Make sure you have working bike lights or reflectors.

4. Pay attention. Assess your environment. Are their cars around? Small children? Are the roads wet or rocky? Pause your iPod at least long enough to acquaint yourself with your surroundings.

So get out there and enjoy the ride. The mental, physical, and environmental perks can be experienced immediately. Within a few short weeks you may find you have a whole new attitude and a firmer derriere. If nothing else, you will have learned a valuable lesson, best put (not surprisingly) by Albert Einstein, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”

2008 New Perspectives. Permission to copy this article is granted provided the authors are notified and the following information is included:

Kathleen Passanisi PT, CSP, CPAE is an internationally recognized transformational speaker, therapeutic humor expert, healthcare professional and author. She has spoken to bajillions of people about life balance, wellness, the power of perception, and the link that exists between humor and health. Kathleen is a member of the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame and the funniest woman in Lake Saint Louis, Missouri (and, quite possibly, the Western Hemisphere.) For more information on Kathleen's presentations, books and products please visit the New Perspectives website at KathleenPassanisi.com

Annie Passanisi is the daughter of a motivational speaker (see above) who inherited her mother’s love for women’s issues and the platform. If that does not tell you enough about her, she is also a Chicago-based actor, singer, freelance writer and editor, 1950s pop culture enthusiast, and swing set champion. For more information, please visit www.TheAnniePassanisi.com.

Need a mother/daughter speaker team? Have Kathleen and Annie co-present for you.