In honor of National Bike Month, this May we encourage you to dust off your cycling gear and hit the trails, not only for the personal benefits but also for the impact that can be made in southern Illinois communities.

Whether you’re riding for fun, fitness, time with family, or taking essential trips to work or shop, you are part of the movement for safer streets, connected communities, and a healthier and happier southern Illinois.

Riding a bike offers many great ways to improve both your physical and mental health. Exercise, such as biking, can decrease stress and tension levels, when done consistently, releasing those feel-good endorphins, which can help keep anxiety and depression at bay, allowing you to focus on the road ahead. 

According to Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, “just three 30-minute sessions a week can be enough to give people the lift they need, ” in fact, riding outside can actually amplify these health benefits, with studies showing that being active in natural environments boosts mental health benefits.

Pushing pedals also puts us on the path to reaping the benefits of being physically fit. Aerobic workouts, like cycling, are great for your cardiovascular and respiratory health, as well as strengthening your immune system and muscles. Being more active can also lead to deeper, more uninterrupted sleep, leading to better recovery and feeling more restful.

The benefits of riding a bike extend beyond the individual, significantly. Through stimulating economic activity, improving traffic congestion, and cutting down on air pollutants, biking is good for our southern Illinois community and our environment.

Biking not only curbs your carbon footprint but also reduces our reliance on fossil fuels. Just moderate increases in bicycle use each year could save an estimated 6 to 14 million tons of Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Picking up your bike instead of your keys can also positively impact pollution, as it takes around 5% of the materials and energy used to make a car to build a bike, and a bike produces nearly 100% less pollution.

Ultimately, we think you should bike because it’s fun! Cycling brings people together to discover trails.

There are many places to explore trails in our region. Here are some recommendations: