Why Should I?

stephanie's picture

Why Should I?

After a week of planning and facilitating the National Bike to Work Festivities, I was ready to just get out there and ride.  Less Talk / More pedaling.  I was really happy to get back my “Frankenbike” road bike back from a local bike shop which was able to fix a really bad situation where my Pannier Bag got caught up in my gears and ripped off my back derailleur about 2 months ago making it impossible to ride.     

Don’t get me wrong, I love my 29’er Jamis Mountain Road Bike, but nothing beats the Frankenbike for longer, lighter distances.  What’s a Frankenbike you ask?  It’s a frame ordered online, combined with old parts and components from previous loved bikes we have owned.  It’s a Felt Carbon Fiber Fork, with shifting components and wheels from a former Felt and Trek, jazzed up with a Terry’s women specific saddle, custom colored break covers and handlebar tape, and Thickslick wheels and liners to endure the harsh Pueblo environment of goatheads and thorns and help prevent flats.   Not fancy or full proof, but I love it and it’s mine!  I even painted little flowers by hand on the frame and have great plans to sticker bomb it with brewery stickers in the near future!

So, my husband and I took off from our house in Pueblo West and headed to Canyon City (which is about 30 miles one way).  We had a quick stop for lunch for a cold brew and some pizza, then headed to a Hot Springs on the way back where we could soak our muscles for a few hours before convincing our teenager to pick us up and give us a ride home.   45 miles was enough for my first long ride of the season.  We weren’t the only cyclists with the idea to ride in this direction today!  We counted 13 mutual riders today on our route.  We saw the crisp mountains in the background, the wildflowers, Hawks, and Prairie Dogs bustling around.  We watched at least 12 hang gliders come in for a landing outside of Canyon City.  Sadly, we also saw our first ever "in-the-wild" tarantula splattered on the shoulder of the road too.    

As I rode today, I analyzed my “inner riding chatter” in my head.  I admit I am a “singer” when it comes to hard exercise.  If you ride with me, you may notice that I can break out in song at any given moment, and for me it has many purposes.  I sing to give myself a pace to work off of – ie: I pedal in rhythm to the music; I sing to distract myself from the potential pain of a hard climb; to fight the fear of flying down a steep ravine; or just because I’m having a blast!  So, it’s not necessarily something an outsider can interpret exactly.  I also plan my day, week or schedule.  I set goals.  I count wildlife.  I count my blessings.  I track colors of wild flowers, etc. Everyone has some of this inner chatter whether they realize it or not.  Even if you “meditate” while being active, you have taught yourself how to do that.  This brought me to an interesting thought – What is going on in our brains when we exercise?  So I started googling it. 

There were some interesting points according to, Lifehacker, in the article, “What Happens to our Brains During Exercise (and Why it Makes Us Happier)” by Leo Widrich.  According to Leo, “If you start exercising, your brain recognizes this as a moment of stress. As your heart pressure increases, the brain thinks you are either fighting the enemy or fleeing from it. To protect yourself and your brain from stress, you release a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). This BDNF has a protective and also reparative element to your memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. That's why we often feel so at ease and like things are clear after exercising”. 

Luckily, according to the article, “"The first 20 minutes of moving around, if someone has been really sedentary, provide most of the health benefits. You get prolonged life, reduced disease risk - all of those things come in the first 20 minutes of being active."  So, it only takes a small amount of time to benefit positively from being active.  We have all heard about endorphins being released to make us happier when we exercise, but the key is making it a habit!  As the article pointed out, “The most important part to uncover now is, of how we can trigger this in an optimal and longer lasting way? 

A recent study from Penn State shed some light on the matter and the results are more than surprising. They found that to be more productive and happier on a given work day, it doesn't matter so much, if you work-out regularly, that you haven't worked out on that particular day”.  In other words, maybe you feel you can’t exercise every day, but if you have created a pattern of doing it regularly, you’re covered overall.  At least much more than if you are just sedentary.

So, take a few minutes to stop thinking about HOW you will be active, and just BE active.  We spend way too much time measuring, analyzing, creating time, space and spreadsheets for changes.  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the comment, “I am hoping/waiting to bicycle or walk later, when I lose enough weight, next season”, etc. etc.   Really?  That sounds like an excuse to me!  Do it now!  It shouldn’t be a goal to exercise later – you need to move now.  It’s not a competition to be healthy.  Not everyone is going to be an athlete or motivated by the same things.  Find what motivates you, which could be as simple as breathing fresh air; smelling the flowers; watching the seasons change; getting out from behind the walls of your home or office; or simply making you kids, yourself, or your dogs happy.  Kids, dogs and other like animals’ area great to examine.  They just like to play. Not for any specific reason, but "just because".  Because it’s fun.  It breaks up the boredom.  It makes them feel good mentally and physically.  It makes them stronger.  It helps them to sleep better.  Or, yes, sometimes it's just to be first and "win" and that's great too!  These are the same reasons adults should exercise and/or be active.  

Let’s stop it with the excuses and just get out there.  Be active and have fun!  Why should you?  Because you deserve it!