health

I Tried Biking 4 Miles To Work For A Week To See If It Would Boost My Energy

by Morgan Greenwald
Morgan is a writer on the branded content team who loves breakfast food almost as much as she loves dogs.

Most people rely on coffee to wake them up in the morning, but I despise the taste and just can’t get myself to down the pungent liquid. I am a big tea drinker, but tea doesn’t contain much caffeine and therefore does little to get me out of bed.

While researching some other ways to energize myself in the morning, I came across a slightly nontraditional method: exercising. According to Livestrong, working out in the morning releases endorphins  hormones that create a natural “high”  and increases circulation to energize the body. In other words, exercising in the morning has the potential to help me wake me up in the morning, perhaps even more so than coffee.

In the past, I’ve tried to get up early and go to the gym, but for some reason I never had the motivation to do it. The few times I did manage to get there, I felt energized and excited for the day afterwards, but the struggle to leave my warm, inviting bed to exercise on a regular basis has, by and large, proven too much for me.

In light of my past failures with working out in the morning, I decided to try to get my exercise energy boost a different way: by biking to work every day for a week.

Heeral Chhibber and Janine Ngai for LittleThings

My reasoning was pretty simple: I figured it would be harder for me to back out of biking. After all, I had to get to work somehow, so why not get there on a bike and potentially get a boost of energy in the process?

Plus, biking to work felt like a welcome change from cramming onto the rush-hour subway every morning (I live and work in New York City).

With so many potential benefits, I was excited to get my biking experiment going.

The Experiment

<u>The Experiment</u>
Heeral Chhibber and Janine Ngai for LittleThings

For some reason, I chose the coldest week of the year (thus far) to conduct my biking experiment.

On the first day of my experiment, when I left my apartment the temperature was in the high 40s, and there was a slight drizzle that started to fog up my glasses before I even made it onto my bike. What a way to start my experiment.

When I went to college in California, I used to bike to class almost every day, despite having fallen off and broken my arm during my freshman year. However, biking in California is nothing compared to biking in New York City.

When aggressive taxis aren’t threatening to knock you off your bike, pedestrians are jumping into your path out of nowhere, making you swerve out of their way into oncoming traffic. Truthfully, the pedestrians were more worrisome to me than the crazy New York drivers, because at least I could see the cars coming.

All in all, my four-mile bike ride to work only took about 30 minutes, which isn’t terrible considering how many traffic lights and obstacles there were on the way. I can definitely say that I was biking much more slowly than the veteran bikers I was riding alongside — but whatever, I made it.

By the time I made it to the office, my ears were ringing from the cold, and my glasses were almost completely fogged from the mist and raindrops. However, I did feel more awake than usual, given that I had to be on full alert during my bike ride if I wanted to stay alive.

On my second day of biking to work, I felt like I had more of a hang of things and felt myself falling into a bit of a routine.

Now that I knew what to avoid — crowded areas, mainly, and the streets with a lot of pedestrians — I found my bike ride much more enjoyable.

I had never really taken the time to see the city like this before, and it was fun to see everything from a new perspective.

Heeral Chhibber and Janine Ngai for LittleThings

I am a huge dog lover, so the best part of my bike ride was all of the dogs that would come up to me whenever I stopped for traffic lights. Even though I couldn’t walk over to them, they were more than happy to come to me, and I made a lot of new furry friends on my new route.

Unfortunately, I did face a few difficulties on my second day. I hadn’t really thought twice about wearing heels to work, but I immediately regretted that decision as soon as I tried biking in them. The heels kept slipping off the pedals, and a few times I worried I was going to lose control of the bike and fall off.

I was also worried about showing up to work with major helmet hair. Luckily, the helmet hair was fixable once I’d arrived. But I quickly learned that packing a brush with me was essential.

Once again, I showed up to work after my 65-block bike ride with a welcome burst of energy, and I didn’t even need a cup of tea to start my day.

On day three of my biking experiment, I came across a new, unforeseen problem. Because the bag I was carrying was completely full, it wouldn’t fit in the area designated on the bike to hold bags in place, so I had to carefully balance it atop the handlebars.

Before I’d even made it a block, my bag had already fallen off its perch and into the road. I scrambled off my bike to pick up my things. Luckily, no cars drove over my stuff as I picked everything up, but it was a close call. As for the rest of my ride, I just rode with my bag on my shoulder.

Heeral Chhibber and Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Another thing I started to realize during my third bike ride was how sweaty I was getting on my morning commutes.

Despite the frigid weather, biking from one end of New York to the other had me working up quite the sweat. By the time I made it to the office, I felt like I had giant pit stains under my arms. Luckily, I could only feel my sweat, not see it.

I’m not sure what other people who bike to work do, but if I ever wanted to do this regularly, I would definitely consider bringing an outfit change.

Though I probably should have learned by day four to put function before fashion, I’m very stubborn and didn’t want to go to work in sneakers and athletic pants.

Heeral Chhibber and Janine Ngai for LittleThings

That’s why, on day four, I tried biking in my heeled boots (again) and ruffled pants, only to spend my entire bike ride struggling not to get my pants caught in the pedals. Oops!

All the while, the weather was continuing to get colder, and so I spent the majority of my ride fighting the urge to throw my bike on the ground and hail a cab.

The one thing that biking against a frigid windchill is good for, however, is waking you up, so I guess that’s a silver lining.

Confession time: On Friday, I took the subway to work.

Now, you may be silently judging me or shaking your head at my lack of follow-through, but I can assure you that, given my circumstances, you would’ve taken the subway, too.

Heeral Chhibber and Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Firstly, the temperature dropped to a high of 37°F, and there was just no way I was biking in that.

To top things off, I had to carry a duffel bag to work that day, and I had no idea how I was going to balance two bags on my shoulders while weaving through oncoming traffic.

With all the odds stacked against me, I made a tough decision and decided to take the subway. Can you blame me?

When I got to work, I did notice I was slightly more groggy than the days on which I had biked, but this might also have been because it was Friday, and I was ready for the weekend.

Did biking to work give me energy?

Definitely. Biking to work in the morning forced me to be alert in the morning, and that alertness translated into productivity throughout the day. Plus, I felt accomplished knowing that I had gotten my exercise in for the day, which alleviated the stress I usually feel about getting to the gym after work.

Would I bike to work again?

Yes! Preferably, I would wait until the weather warms up, but I will definitely be biking to work again. Next time, though, I think I’ll wear outfits that are more biking-appropriate!

Do you know someone who is considering biking to work? Make sure to SHARE this article with them on Facebook!