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Originally published Monday, February 25, 2013 at 5:00 AM

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Biking to work improves your health and job performance

Exercise, without a doubt, increases your productivity at the office. So pedal-powering your way to work can improve your performance on and off the road.

Special to The Seattle Times

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How true, but it depends on living close to work. Most people don't live within 10... MORE
Well said. These coming summer months make for some of the most beautful rides and you... MORE

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On Fitness

Little bits of sunshine are getting all of us excited about the approach of spring, and there’s no better way to enjoy the warming weather than to exercise in it.

Biking to work is the perfect way to start your day productively by combining two things you need to do: get to work and get in a workout. Along the way, you can save time, money and the environment. Where’s the down side?

If you start integrating an active commute into your routine now, you’ll be ready when the really nice weather hits to bike to work every day.

Depending on your fitness level, some commute distances may be doable for some, but not for others. To help you assess, go online and find the quickest, safest, most accessible route to your work that suits your skill level.

You can use Google maps to get biking directions (and yes, there’s an app for that, too.) The maps include bike lanes and allow you to avoid big hills and busy traffic zones.

Once you have the route, do a few practice runs so you can make sure you give yourself enough time to not only get to work, but to freshen up once you arrive.

If you find your commute is too long to do a round trip, consider biking one way and riding the bus or carpooling the other.

Bringing along your necessities for both the ride and for work can be the biggest obstacle. Cyclists can use a backpack or bike pack to bring along their essentials without throwing off their balance.

The lighter your load the better, so leave as much of your stuff at work as possible so you don’t have to bring it everyday. If you have a shower available at your job, keep a bag of all your toiletries and some extra clothing at the office so you will always have what you need when you arrive. If you do not have access to a shower, pick up some after-workout wipes to prepare you for the workday.

Safety is key, so learn the rules of the road. Bicyclists should obey all traffic laws at all times, including using bike lanes when provided and proper hand signals to warn traffic of your next move.

Be sure to do a gear check each day before you head out, or the night before. Your bike should be in top working order, particularly your brakes. Make sure your shoes and clothes are weather appropriate and reflective. Also be sure to have a light source if your commute will be happening during low-light hours.

You don’t have to bike to work every day to get the benefits. Pedaling to work just once or twice a week is a great way to work more physical activity into your day without sacrificing much additional time.

Exercise, without a doubt, increases your productivity at the office. So pedal-powering your way to work can improve your performance on and off the road.

Kelly Turner: kellyturnerfitness@gmail.com; Turner is an ACE (American Council on Exercise) certified personal trainer and fitness writer. www.KellyTurnerFitness.com; on Twitter @KellyTurnerFit.

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