Everyday, I join just over a million people that travel into work in central London! ONE MILLION PEOPLE! That is a lot! In 2007, TFL (Transport for London) calculated that 28 million journeys were made in London on an average day; this included: public transport, private transport, walking, cycling and other forms. 40% of those journeys were made using public transport, 38% used private transport (primarily by car), an estimated 24% walk into London and just 1.8% of people cycle to work. I thought that these figures are pretty staggering, including the fact that they add up to 103.8%!
I am one of the 1.8% of people that cycle to work. I have been cycling in London for over a year and it is the best decision I have made in terms of transport. Rain or shine (preferably shine) I get on my bike and head into London. I am getting fitter (my body fat is down from 23% to 14%), I am saving money (at least £100 a month) and I get to see parts of London that I have never seen before (at 5am, London is completely different to look at than at 6am, for instance). I get up, get on my bike and get to work. I shower and have breakfast at work, normally porridge with some seeds or add some protein powder. Some people might question why I don’t have breakfast before I exert myself getting to work. Normally, I would insist that clients eat a decent meal before exercise so that they get the nutrients into their system to prepare themselves for exercise. However, in the morning I just don’t have time. Yet, there is some evidence that suggests that steady state exercise (e.g. my 5 mile ride into work) following a fasting period (e.g. sleeping for 8 hours) helps to increase metabolic rate during the day and, as a result, reduce body fat. If you want to read more on this topic there is a really good account by Dr John Berardi here: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/intermittent-fasting/summary on his experiences with intermittent fasting.
With the Olympics in full flow, cycling is becoming even more valuable. Naturally, traffic is worse, although this just means more stationary traffic so it’s easier for bikes. My usual route to work has been affected (the Mall and Hyde park are being used for events) however I am still be able to get to work in a fraction of the time that it would take using public transport.
The physical benefits of cycling over public transport are obvious. Cycling is much better for you than sitting on a tube, everyone knows that! More specifically, it is a great workout for your Glutes, Hamstrings and Quads as this is where most of the power comes from. So, if you are training for lower body power, try sprinting between traffic lights (if it’s safe!) or try to incorporate a few hills into your route. Hills are a great way of adding resistance to cycling, which will increase your heart rate and require a bit more effort from your muscles. You can also take your new commuting regime to the gym and support it with an exercise program designed to increase lower limb power and endurance – making your daily commute to work easier and faster!