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Not-So-Speedy Pedaling Boosts Benefits

Researchers from the United Kingdom’s University of Winchester have found that cycling improves brain function. The study tested the cognitive function of 17 physically active men in their 20s before and after two 30-minute sessions on a stationary bike. The results showed significant cognitive improvements following each session.

Biking to work is also a good way to reduce our carbon footprint, but breathing in exhaust fumes and other pollutants is a concern for street cyclists. Alexander Bigazzi, a transportation expert in the department of civil engineering and school of community and regional planning at the University of British Columbia, has studied the relationship between average-speed bicycle travel and inhalation of potentially harmful air.

Using a U.S. Census-based computer model of 10,000 people, Bigazzi found that the ideal bicycling speed to inhale the minimum amount of pollution is between 7.5 to 12.5 miles per hour (mph), placing the lowest risk for women nearly eight mph and for men at just over eight mph. “The faster you move, the harder you breathe and the more pollution you could potentially inhale, but you are also exposed to traffic for a shorter period of time. This analysis shows where the sweet spot is,” says Bigazzi.

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