Wednesday, 7 June 2017

In which I finally get enough exercise

The NHS recommends we do at least 2h30 of moderate exercise every week. That was really hard, until it suddenly became ridiculously easy.

Failed attempts

I tried getting enough exercise the traditional way - scheduling "exercise" into my diary as an activity in itself. I don't have an abiding childhood passion for a single sport, so over several years I tried: running, laser tag, climbing, fencing, badminton, gymnastics, tennis, ice-skating, and probably others I've forgotten. These all got stymied through lack of facilities nearby, lack of time, lack of opponents, and lack of desire to go out while it was cold and wet and dark just to do something I was bad at.

Being a Londoner, I in fact got most of my exercise walking to the tube, walking inside tube stations, and eschewing the tube to wander across the city and enjoy it. (Data on the relationship between Londoners, active travel and public transport generally can be found in this report.) Even so, I wasn't consistently hitting even the minimum recommended.

Owning a bike

2h30 of moderate exercise is 20 minutes/day, or a cycling trip of 2km each way at a slow pace. In total, that's about 30km per week. That sounds like a long way - until you start thinking about how far you travel anyway.

Here is a list of some of the places I go to in London:

~1km destinations:
  • Supermarkets
  • Bakery
  • Restaurants
  • Library
  • Stations
~2km destinations:
  • Park
  • Cinema
  • Asian supermarket
  • Medical care
  • More useful stations
  • Non-food shops
  • More restaurants
  • Music rehearsals
  • Meetings
  • Friends
~5km destinations:
  • Friends
  • Markets
  • Galleries
  • Free concerts

~5-10km destinations:
  • Work
  • Church
  • Friends
  • Central London, and its myriad attractions

Obviously, commuting to work by bike even a couple of times per week immediately fulfils my exercise requirements. But even without that, just doing my local errands by bicycle covers most of them.

And on the days when I do commute by bike? Apparently that means a significant increase in my calorie requirements. More cake and no more forcing myself into "sports"? That's a solution I can live with - possibly for quite a long time.

Spread the fun

To help you or you friends make the same happy discovery, try
It can give you ideas on short trips starting from your home.

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