Today is Clean Air Day, which is the UK's largest air pollution campaign. Its aims are to increase public awareness about indoor and outdoor air pollution and its effect on our health, and to explain some of the ways that we can tackle this issue. Air pollution is widely regarded as the UK's largest risk to public health. In fact, the Environmental Audit Committee have estimated that the health costs lie somewhere between £8.5 billion and £20.2 billion a year on an already severely strained NHS. In response to this looming crisis, many of us have opted to cycle as opposed to drive or use other polluting vehicles to get from A to B.
According to recent research, cyclists are the least exposed to air pollution in comparison with other commuters on daily journeys through congested areas. Commuters in cars and buses spend longer in toxic air, and so do pedestrians unless they use side streets to avoid the main roads, simply because they are outside in polluted areas for longer. Cyclists also contribute to reducing the sheer amount of vehicles on the road, particularly in urbanised areas. Even though cyclists still come into contact with air pollution as they travel, the actual health risks are far outweighed by the benefits of cycling. One study a few years ago found that it is safe to cycle for up to two hours a day in 99% of cities around the world without experiencing any serious effects of air pollution.
You might be considering incorporating more cycling into your life, or you might already be a cycling aficionado. Whatever your experience, there is a vast array of benefits of regular cycling. Below are our recommendations of the best apps you can download now on either the App Store or on Google Play which will take your cycling experience to the next level.
This app can be described as the intersection between social media and fitness. Strava uses features found in social media platforms like Twitter or Instagram and pairs them with tracking technology which is able to work with smartphones or fitness tracking devices. If you want to share and compare your results with others you can, however you can also adjust the settings so that your results are visible only to you. However you choose to use this app, it is great for those of us with a competitive streak.
Want to cycle off the beaten track? If the answer is yes, then Komoot would be the ideal cycling app for you. Komoot is great for mountain biking, but it also works well with road biking. It is essentially an advanced and detailed route planner using GPS technology. All you need to do is enter your start and end points and Komoot will visualise your route for you. If you want to also add stop-off locations like a café you would like to visit, then Komoot will find the best way to integrate it into your ride. Komoot can also take into account your fitness level and the type of bike you are using to create a more accurate representation of your journey.
Many people are familiar with Fitbit, but did you know that you can use it for cycling specifically? There is a new feature called SmartTrack which enables your Fitbit to automatically recognise that you have just been cycling (as it can identify the activity that you have done) and record it in the Fitbit app. You also have the option to personalise SmartTrack by selecting 'Outdoor Bike' as your exercise of choice. Keeping track of your fitness progress has never been easier.
Whatever your cycling skill level, there is an app out there for you. Ultimately it is your decision how you want to tailor your cycling experience, and if you just want to disconnect from tech all together and enjoy the ride, feel free to do so.
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