It may be cold, dark and probably wet outside, but continuing to commute by bike to work during winter has a host of health benefits - so don't give in

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As the weather takes a turn for the worse and the nights start to draw in closer, the thought of riding to and from work during winter becomes ever less appealing.

It’s understandable though. After a hard day, the thought of pedalling home through harsh weather conditions doesn’t exactly fill the body with excitement and enthusiasm. However, it’s important you keep at it, as regular riding over the winter will not only maintain your fitness levels, but also help build momentum for when the sportive or racing season starts again in spring.

Riding to and from work during autumn and winter can be tough, but with the right clothing, bike modifications, lights and willpower, it’s easily achievable. For the good of our heart, health and wellbeing, more people should be turning to two wheels, whatever the weather.

Winter cycle commute

With the right clothing and a good set of lights, you can keep riding through the worst of the winter

In fact, commuting to work by bike each day can do more, especially to one’s waistline. According to a study published online in the British Medical Journal, active commuting is linked to lower body weight and body fat composition.

The researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and UCL investigated the relationship between active commuting and two known markers for obesity — body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentage.

After analysing more than 7,500 men and women, their results showed that men who actively commuted had BMI scores around one point lower than those who used public transport, equating to a difference in weight of almost half a stone for the average man.

Women who actively commuted had BMI scores around 0.7 points lower than those who used public transport, equating to a difference in weight of 5.5lb for the average woman.

Results for percentage body fat were similar in size and difference.

Researchers were keen to stress that no firm conclusions can be drawn from the study regarding cause and effect, but they highlight that active commuting such as cycling “should be considered as part of strategies to reduce the burden of obesity and related health conditions”.

  • Victoria Spira

    I started cycling to work a year ago at the age of 57. It was to help save money, get fit and boost my weight loss having a personal trainer twice a week with a friend, which, while good was not enough. I have managed to lose 2 stone and have another 1.5 to go and all I can say is, it is wonderful, so much nicer than the horrible overcrowded hot tube. I only gave in when the weather was really terrible and that was not often! an odd day here and there.
    Yes, it can be dangerous. I have witnessed one rider knocked off his bike through no fault of his but equally another rider came off and it was entirely his own fault!
    I guess I am very lucky in the route I use (Acton / Aldgate East) that there are plenty of cycle lanes plus parks to cycle through. If only everyone took care and thought about each other things could be a lot safer. That goes for cars, lorries, cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians!! None of us are perfect. Though tourists on ‘Boris’ bikes in Hyde Park can be a menace!! 🙂
    All that said, I have got early retirement so will not be doing the daily commute in future and will look forward to riding locally, though everywhere you still need to take care.
    I would also highly recommend some cycle training run by local councils if available as it gave me the extra confidence to tackle the busy London roads.
    Be careful, stay safe and enjoy while you can. 🙂

  • Bob_the_Bitcher

    Sorry to say – it’s just not safe!

    Several people (on separate occasions) at my work have ended up in hospital with serious injuries. Many people have simply stopped biking to work.

    Also work place facilities are often sub-standard.

    My life in simply not worth the apparent gain of exercise.