News | Published March 8, 2013

Biking in all kinds of weather

When it comes to jumping on your bike when the temperatures fall, “It’s a mindset,” says Cynthia Huntsman Flanagan, a clinical research nurse at The Pennsylvania State University, who rides her bicycle to work every day of the year—almost!

It’s also a matter of gear. Dressing in layers is key. “I wear wind pants over other pants, and several pair of socks and lobster claw gloves with a liner,” says Flanagan, who checks her phone app every morning to find out which way the wind is blowing and other meteorological facts before heading to the Penn State University campus and to work at 6:30 am—a 45 minute ride.

Some people might think getting on a bike at 5:45 am in the dark on a freezing cold morning is punishment. Not Flanagan. “This is my time. It is the one sure way of getting an hour or more of exercise a day and the benefits far outweigh the downside. I love the seasons. I love the cold fresh air.”

As for the rest of her day? Flanagan says she feels alert and ready to work each day and she goes to bed early.

Exercise can affect your sleep. The results of the National Sleep Foundation’s 2013 Sleep in America® poll show a compelling association between exercise and better sleep. 

“Exercise is great for sleep. For the millions of people who want better sleep, exercise may help,” says David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). 

Exercisers say they sleep better
Self-described exercisers report better sleep than self-described non-exercisers even though they say they sleep the same amount each night (6 hours and 51 minutes - the average on weeknights). Vigorous, moderate and light exercisers are significantly more likely to say “I had a good night’s sleep” every night or almost every night on work nights than non-exercisers (67 percent - 56 percent vs. 39 percent). Also, more than three-fourths of exercisers (76 percent - 83 percent) say their sleep quality was very good or fairly good in the past two weeks, compared to slightly more than one-half of non-exercisers (56 percent).

“If you are inactive, adding a 10 minute walk every day could improve your likelihood of a good night’s sleep,” says Max Hirshkowitz, PhD, poll task force chair. “Making this small change and gradually working your way up to more intense activities like running or swimming could help you sleep better.”

Besides good sleep, some other benefits of commuting to work on a bicycle, according to Flanagan include: 

  • Saving money on gas
  • Saving on wear and tear of your vehicle
  • No worries with parking