If you want to keep fit but hate sport, don’t find the time for exercise and are put off by the cost of joining a gym, what can you do to fight the flab and feel better?
Have you ever thought of cycling? There has never been a better time to take to the road with pedal power. Bike Week runs from 15th – 23rd June and is designed to encourage “everyday cycling for everyone”. What’s more, it’s National Cycle to Work Day on 21st June.
Cycling could save you thousands on fuel and parking costs; you won’t get stuck in a traffic jam and if you currently use public transport it will save you the ever-rising rail and bus fares. Alongside these benefits you will feel physically and mentally healthier. Cycling will also help you to cut greenhouse gases and do your bit for the environment. Recent research by the Cycle to Work Alliance* showed that carbon emissions were reduced by well over 100,000 tonnes per year as a result of people travelling to work using the Cycle to Work scheme.
If you want a good bike and the right equipment but are worried about the cost, you can ask your employer to offer the Cycle to Work scheme, which is approved by HMRC as an employee benefit. It’s designed to allow companies to give staff the opportunity to buy new bicycles and equipment worth up to £1000. Ask your employer if they have it. If they don’t, ask them if they will offer it.
Cycle to Work could save you and your employer money – a company could save up to £138 per employee on the scheme. You could save up to £410. You simply give up part of your salary to pay for the bike and will not be taxed on it. After a year or 18 months you can then pay the remainder to buy the bike. It’s like a hire purchase with tax savings. You could save up to 50% of the original cost of the bike and equipment too. Let your employer know that they will also save indirectly because employees who cycle to work take fewer sick days.
You may think cycling to work would take longer but for short journeys up to a few miles, it can take less time as you can take different routes to cars, avoid jams and won’t have to look for a parking space at your destination.
The Cycle to Work Alliance research* also shows that fewer women take up cycling, but there are lots of reasons to do it. If you have children, it’s great to set an example by being an active parent and by showing them how to ride safely. Building daily exercise into the journey you would make to work anyway will make you fitter and save on time and money on other fitness activities. If you’ve got a few hills on your way to work which are putting you off making the journey on two wheels, you could even buy an electric bike to help you on your way.
If you are concerned about safety, make sure you buy the essentials – again you can save on these through the Cycle to Work scheme – including a bell, front and rear lights and a helmet. If you want to carry things such as a bag, a laptop or your lunch to work, buy panniers or a basket too. A pump is essential for maintenance, as is a lock to make sure your bike doesn’t disappear after your first journey! You won’t need any special clothing, but some waterproofs in case it rains are a good investment. If the weather is bad, remember that even just being a fair-weather cyclist will get you fitter and create environmental and financial savings.
Visit www.busybeesbenefits.com for more information about Cycle to Work. Contact Busy Bees Benefits if you are interested in saving with the Cycle to Work scheme and they will contact your employer for you.