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Much is said today regarding the high price of fuel for our modern automobiles. I have noticed the few times I travel on our freeways, that even speeds have slowed to accommodate gas savings. With jobs reduced as well as rates of pay, this trick to save at the pumps is making a real affect on driving habits. What is not frequently mentioned are the environmental impacts of internal combustion engines and the degradation of the air we all breathe!

Fumes from modern engines are extremely toxic to us and the environment. This fact is known by all the studies concerning the changes in atmospheric conditions we experience and will ultimately leave to our children. The toxic gases released from vehicle engines are reported by the EPA {Environmental Protection Agency} as motor vehicles being the primary source of ozone-causing pollutants, accounting for almost half of U.S. air pollution. “Smog” {ground level ozone formation} levels are more evident in some states than others, and are highest during the summer. This is simply due to sunlight and heat being the major components towards ozone formation. The “high” season is from April thru October. The worst conditions are windless, hot, sunny days with no precipitation.

There is one commonality between this explanation and bicycles, namely they both occur during the times of optimum usage. In most seasonal states, the summer is the perfect time to reduce driving and start cycling. Most of us cannot ride this season out to work like I can. But any reduction in driving has many benefits. Cleaning the environment in which we exist is one. Another is increased health overall. Bicycling reduces body weight by marked amounts. Just take a look at any serious cyclist and you can appreciate your future. Cycling generates beta endorphins, which are simply put; natural chemicals in your system that just make you feel better! Perspiration improves the look of skin making your face and body more youthful and strong in appearance. Most importantly, it reduces stress in large amounts. 30 minutes of cycling a day not only reduces smog production but likely adds quantity and quality to your life span.

The key to all these benefits is “regularity”. You do not have to tax yourself beyond your limit or sign up for the Tour de France, you only have to participate “every single day”. This is the main problem with exercise routines. Gurus preach particular intervals for a designed affect, but in reality “regularity” will gain you the health results you desire while caring for the environment.   

Equipment is at a minimum expense to get started almost everywhere. Bicycles can be reclaimed from curbs on trash days. Rebuilding an older bike and restoring it to its former glory is very rewarding. I have done this with three classic vintages and they are still operating within my family group. Estate sales often get rid of operating bikes for a minimal cost. Many of these are close to mint condition and only require air in their tires to get you rolling into a more healthful you.

By becoming involved with cycling, you can improve your health, body, and outlook on life while indirectly improving your relationships with positive personality adjustments for little or no cost. The big picture affects our environment by reducing one of the greatest threats against our planet. Talk about getting four {4} for one practice! Reducing engine use and increasing leg use also makes you your own individual haz-mat responder in your own immediate time. Research cycling, your body, your family, and your relationships will thank you well into the future.

                                                     Haz Mat Mike

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