If you've been reading this series on Pedals for Paul and bicycle safety the last three weeks, you might have something of a dire feeling about cycling.
After all, the series began talking about the bicycle/motor vehicle accident that led to McPherson College sophomore Paul Ziegler's death on Sept. 23, 2012.
Then it continued with safety tips for cyclists and motorists, citing statistics about fatalities and injuries resulting from bicycle/motor vehicle accidents.
One might come away from that wondering whether it's worth the risk to hop into the bicycle saddle.
In short: Yes. Cycling is worth it, if only for the benefits of the exercise.
The Surgeon General reports in the United States, obesity and lack of exercise lead directly to preventable diseases that kill more than 112,000 Americans annually. Lack of exercise leads to a higher risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. Compare these numbers to the 677 who died in cycling accidents in 2011.
If the health argument doesn't hold sway, perhaps appeal to the pocketbook will. Health expenses for those obese and inactive can be more than 40 percent higher than for a person of normal weight.
So why cycling? Reasons include that cycling is great for building muscle strength, muscle tone, joint strength and stamina. It also builds up the heart and lungs. The British Medical Association, for example, said riding 20 miles per week can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by half.
Taking to a bicycle is an easy way to lose weight as well, as an hour of riding burns about 300 calories, meaning that 30 minutes of cycling a day will burn 11 pounds of fat during the course of a year.
As with any new exercise, however, you should start off easy and build up over time. Also, be sure to talk with your family doctor to make sure there aren't particular health issues you need to consider or limitations you need to follow.
Because cycling is both fun and exercise, it will also help you reduce stress and increase a sense of well-being. To get a sense of just how enjoyable bicycling can be, McPherson College invites you to participate in the second annual Pedals for Paul bike ride Oct. 5.
Pedals for Paul begins at 9:30 a.m. with a free bicycle safety rodeo for kids 9 and younger at Harnly Gardens. Bring your own bicycle.
The Pedals for Paul ride also begins at 9:30 a.m. nearby on the front steps of Melhorn Science Hall, with five, 10 and 20 mile routes planned. Check-in and warm-up begins at 9 a.m. If you can't make it, log your miles and email it to Anna Ruxlow at firstname.lastname@example.org. There's no entry fee, but preregistration is required at www.mcpherson.edu/pedalsforpaul and donations are accepted for the Paul Ziegler Memorial Scholarship Fund.