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Blazing Saddles: Let cycling conquer the COVID blues

We’ve been virally attacked and brought to our collective knees not just by a simple strand of RNA which wants to invade our cells so that it can reproduce, but by an unrelenting deluge of terrifying media information and misinformation. Both are threatening the very organic security, not to mention the collective sanity, of Homo Sapiens, and both are the product of the world which our choices and behaviours have created with all their arrogant disrespect for the miraculous natural systems which sustain us.

By Baz Daniel

Saturday 18 April 2020, 01:13PM

Keeping your social distance while cycling is easy. Photo: Supplied

Keeping your social distance while cycling is easy. Photo: Supplied

The vast majority of us arrive on this planet, created by this miracle called Nature, in a healthy and energetic form. Our behavioural choices  while we are here, such as eating and sleeping well, not smoking, developing loving, happy relationships and regularly exercising have an immense influence on how well we maintain our fabulous gift of sentience and as a result, how much we enjoy the experience of being alive for the few circuits around the sun our planet takes while we are on it.

Now more than ever, our behavioural choices are of the utmost importance because there are direct correlations between how healthy and fit you are and the chances that you might contract the virus and having done so, the chances that the virus will seriously damage you, or even terminate your miraculous sojourn upon this mortal cycling coil!

Eating well, exercising, staying calm and unstressed, regularly getting sunlight and fresh air and enjoying happy social connections and quality sleep are all important immunity boosters and play a major role in your ongoing happy survival.

While our opportunities for social interaction are being severely constrained, we can still avail ourselves of Phuket’s glorious vitamin-stimulating sunshine while out riding our bikes, or brisk walking, in air that is far cleaner and pollution-free than it has been for many a year.

I heartily recommend that you get out on your bike, or failing that, get out for a long, arms-swinging, fresh air walk every day during this challenging period. Staying locked indoors is not only terrible for your mental health, but in very real terms, for your immune system too. 

Vitamin D production as a result of exposure to the sun’s rays is just one aspect of how the Great Outdoors boosts your immune system. Regular exposure to sunlight also improves your mood, boosts serotonin, balances hormones and naturally-generated vitamin D from sunlight is significantly more beneficial for your immune system than taking a supplement.

Cycling is a great way to achieve a good immune-boosting bout of exercise in as little as an hour, while being completely out of range of the breath of anyone else (unless you happen to be riding a tandem of course!)

Two other positive benefits of regular cycling are that it boosts your appetite for fresh, healthy, immune-boosting foods such as lean proteins (oily fish, eggs, chicken, seafood, cheese, nuts) and crunchy, vitamin- and mineral-rich, vegetables and fruits. It also gives you a great thirst for buckets of clean, cool, water to flush out your system, as the ambient temperature even early in the morning is always pretty high in Phuket.

I was out riding recently around the hills above Rawai, up to Promthep Cape and around to Nai Harn lake in the deep south of the island and, as mentioned, the air quality was as pure as I can remember it in almost 20 happy years living here. There were no pollution-belching tour buses at all and very little vehicular traffic on the roads.                             

Bicycling, or brisk walking if you don’t own a bike, are great ways to stay strong mentally and physically against this virus and help out society and the already overburdened health services by NOT becoming a casualty.

Happy, socially-distanced, cycling!

“Bicycling” Baz Daniel fell off his first bicycle aged three... a case of love at first slight. Since then he has spent a further 65 years falling on and off bicycles all over the world, but his passion endures. When not in traction, he found time to become Senior VP of the world’s largest advertising and communications group, finally retiring to Phuket in 2006. He has been penning his Blazing Saddles column, chronicling his cycling adven­tures in Phuket and beyond, since 2013.

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