January 16, 2013

An underrated health benefit of cycling to work in Tokyo

We all know about the numerous health benefits of cycling, its good for your heart, muscles and of course your waistline.  Many of us also agree that cycling is also good for our mental health.  Regular exercise is also responsible for boosting your immune system which is what I'm interested in as we plough through winter.

In Tokyo cycling has one HUGE undocumented health benefit that should receive much more attention.  Every day millions of Tokyoites cram themselves into rush hour trains and subways, sharing the space and the air with an unknown number of sick commuters and an equally unknown number of viruses.

Maybe this is making me paranoid?
Fortunately the wearing of surgical masks in Japan is widespread even when you're not performing surgery. Cautious individuals wear them to ward off viruses, sickly individuals wear them out of courtesy to those around them, one fellow at my office started wearing a mask months ago and claims he'll continue wear it up until the end of spring. Of course not everyone is so considerate, and in addition to that, some viruses are contagious even before the carrier realises they're sick, which puts everyone sharing the confined space of a train carriage at risk of infection.

By removing yourself from this unhealthy environment you're decreasing your chances of picking up a nasty bug on your commute.  So cycle to work, improve your health and protect yourself from nasty winter bugs.

(I write this post after heavy snowfall in Tokyo has forced me to take the train for the last two days straight. While riding the train with the masked, sniffling masses I've been reading the opening chapters of "The Stand", so maybe I'm just overly paranoid!)


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