Benefits of Biking to Work
Nancy Whelchel used to be so dedicated to riding her bike to work she didn’t even check the weather forecast before leaving home.
Whelchel is as fervent about biking to work today as she was 26 years ago when she moved to North Carolina. But now she makes sure to check the weather before making her 1.5-mile trip from Raleigh’s University Park neighborhood, where she lives, to NC State.
“I do it for my health,” said Whelchel, director for survey research in the Office of Institutional Research and Planning. “I do it for the environment. I do it because I enjoy it. I just would much rather get on a bike than get in a car.”
NC State encourages faculty and staff to take part in physical activity as part of a holistic approach to wellness. Next week at NC State is designated as Healthy Campus Week. The entire week is dedicated to educating students, faculty and staff about wellness.
Physical activity has many benefits, including reducing the risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, strokes and breast and colon cancer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults do one of the following each week:
- 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity.
- An hour and 15 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity.
- A mix of both.
The activities can range from walking and bicycling to swimming and jumping rope.
Physical fitness is vitally important to Whelchel, and that’s why she is an ardent bicyclist and swimmer.
“I want to be moving,” she said. “I am so grateful that I am able to be as physically active as I am. I want to take advantage of that for as long as I possibly can.”
Kevin Rice, director of Learning and Organizational Development in University Human Resources, also rides a bike to work.
Rice said he started biking to work 16 years ago, but he didn’t do it consistently. He said he has ridden a bike to work nearly every day for the past three to four years.
Rice rides to NC State from Cary. He leaves home at 7 a.m., and his commute can take up to an hour depending on the routes he takes.
Rice takes one of two routes to campus. One route is 10 miles long, and the other is 13 miles, he said.
Rice said he bikes to work for the physical benefits and because he finds it relaxing.
“Cycling into work helps me get ready for the day, and then the return ride back home helps me get rid of the day,” he said. “When I arrive home, I’m relaxed, and any work-related stress is gone.”
Rice said one of his favorite things to do is long-distance cycling. He said he loves it because he gets to enjoy camping — another passion of his — when he does it.
Later this month, Rice plans to participate in the Mountains to Coast ride, a seven-day North Carolina bike ride that starts in Blowing Rock and ends in Atlantic Beach. Rice and the other bicyclists will sleep at campsites as they make their way along the roughly 500-mile route.
It was Janice Sitzes, a colleague of Rice’s at NC State, who introduced Rice to long-distance bike riding. Sitzes said her love for bike riding crescendoed after she moved to North Carolina in 1997. She said she started to ride more frequently and longer distances.
For the past 11 years, Sitzes has ridden in the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. The average route for the bike ride is 468 miles.
“You come back exhausted, but it’s so much fun,” said Sitzes, the associate director for marketing services at Continuing and Professional Education.
For Sitzes, physical activity is a must-do. She also runs and participates in Camp Gladiator, an outdoor boot camp.
She said she stays active because of the physical, emotional and mental benefits and because it’s an opportunity to socialize.
“So many health issues can be avoided through exercise, and I feel better when I work out,” Sitzes said. “I can tell when I don’t because of life issues that get in the way or whatever reason. It’s a way for me to de-stress, and it’s also my thinking time.”