Did you know that I own a bike? Did you also know that this bike dates back to when the former Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Osita Chidoka, initiated the first bicycle week as a way to promote non-motorized transportation in Nigeria in 2014?
I am talking about the era when one of my adored politicians from the East and the former Transport Minister, Chief Ojo Maduekwe held sway as the bicycle transportation exponent. Would you be shocked if I confessed to you that since 2014 when I bought the bike and managed to ride along my colleagues, my bike has become a souvenir?
Each time I am deployed, my bike moves alongside. Yet, it merely adorns my living room. The nearest I have done in putting the bike to use is to gauge the bike to be sure that the tyres are in good shape. My phobia is worsened each time I spot Chidinma, my friend’s wife biking while I am busy with my usual morning routine walk to keep fit.
It was therefore not strange when on Monday this week at the commencement of the 7th United Nations Global Road Safety Week tagged sustainable Transport, a team comprising the World Health Organisation, Dr Sydney Ibeanusi, the National Focal Person and Country Director, United Nations Decade of Action on Road Safety and Injury Prevention among others paid a courtesy visit to the leadership of the Corps.
In particular the shift is on the need for walking, cycling and using public transport. While they were addressing the gathering, I confessed to my colleague that nothing will compel me to take my bike out to ride unless within my estate or when rapture takes place as we are told in the Holy Bible.
If you are worried about me, please hold your peace and allow me deal with the benefits of cycling before dwelling on the worries of the Corps which has been expressed sarcastically by some concerned road users. Basically, we acknowledge the need for the appropriate infrastructure to be put in place such as the appropriate bicycle lanes among others. I hope to deal with others in my conclusion.
Despite my personal phobia which does not outweigh the benefits of cycling, please permit me to allow, Dr Sydney Ibeanusi of the Federal Minister of Health guide us on why we must ride. Since I am not qualified to speak on the health benefits, I will run excerpts of his paper hoping that you will find it as rich as I did.
According to him, research shows that a 15 minutes vigorous activity a day increases lifespan by three years. At slower the pace, about 30 minutes is required to achieve the same benefits. Exercise, he noted has been shown to reduce obesity, improve oxygen capacity, lower blood pressure and cholesterol and improve other heart functions. While acknowledging the dearth in National Studies on the benefits of riding, he said that most studies are from global Literature.
What then are these benefits; Improved Longevity. A Study from King’s College London compared over 2,400 identical twins. Those who did the equivalent of three to 45 minute ride a week were nine years ‘biologically younger’ even after discounting other potential confounders, such as body mass index (BMI) and smoking.
Dr Lynn Cherkas, the lead researcher, concluded that “Those who exercise regularly are at significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type two diabetes, all types of cancer, high blood pressure and obesity. “The body becomes much more efficient at defending itself and regenerating new cells.” Such a finding would go a long to improve the life expectancy in Nigeria which by 2012 estimation by the WHO stands at about 50years. In Places with highest longevity such as Japan, a good number of persons indulge in the habit of cycling.
Another benefit is in the area of Improved Cardiac (Heart) Function & Preventing Cardiovascular Dxs. Studies from Purdue University in the United States that regular cycling can cut your risk of heart disease by 50percent. Similar findings were recorded in the Copenhagen City Heart Study.
The most dramatic finding was a cut of 82percent in the risk of the faster cyclists dying from a heart attack during a 30 minute daily session of cycling. The British Heart Foundation found that 10,000 fatal heart attacks are avoided each year if people are fitter. Cycling just 20 miles a week reduces your risk of heart disease to less than 50percent, (such as stroke, high BP and heart attack.
Cycling strengthens your heart muscles, lowers resting pulse and reduces blood fat levels. Riding a bike like I did, Boosts PULMONARY / LUNG FXN. An adult cycling uses 10 times the oxygen they would need to sit in front of the Television for same period. Regular cycling will help strengthen your cardiovascular system over time, enabling your heart and lungs to work more efficiently and getting more oxygen where it’s needed, quicker. This means that you can do more exercise for less effort.
At a time and age when diabetes is rampant, those who ride are at less risk of Diabetes. The rate of type 2 diabetes is increasing and is a serious public health concern. Lack of physical activity is thought to be a major reason why people develop this condition. Large- scale research in Finland found that people who cycled for more than 30 minutes per day had a 40 per cent lower risk of developing diabetes. Cancer: Cycle away from “the big C” ( Cancer).