I Love to Ride My Bicycle: Part 1

I recently found out that Elaina, one of the employees in our Boise, Idaho office, bikes everywhere she goes.  To me, that was really amazing, I can barely walk on snowy roads let alone contemplate riding a bicycle on them,  but it left me with a million questions for her. How do you grocery shop?  How do you get your kiddos to school, how do you get to work without looking like a hot mess?  Here’s part one of Elaina’s bike riding story.

Bicycling combines exercise, lifestyle prioritization, financial benefits, environmental IMG_1359consciousness, and being awesome all into one single outdoor activity. This will be my 5th straight year of commuting via bicycle year-round, with kids in tow, and I’m having the time of my life.

If you ride a bicycle, be proud. Humans riding on bicycles are more energy-efficient than any other animal and any other form of transportation. Vance Tucker of Duke University compared bicyclists to humans and animals running, birds flying and fish swimming, as well as to people in motor-powered cars, boats, trains and planes (J. Exp. Bio, 1973; 68 (9): 689 – 709). The less energy per weight you use to travel over a distance, the more energy-efficient you are. Vance found that the most efficient creature without mechanical help is a condor. With mechanical help, the cyclist comes out on top. Here is a partial list, ranked from most to least energy-efficient:

  1. Human on a bicycle
  2. Condor
  3. Salmon
  4. Horse
  5. Human in a jet plane
  6. Human walking
  7. Human running
  8. Human in an automobile
  9. Cow
  10. Sheep
  11. Dog
  12. Hummingbird
  13. Rabbit
  14. Bee
  15. Mouse

Biking forces you to be efficient with your choices. 

When I became a single mother, I was forced to be ruthlessly efficient with my choices. Armed with no resources but supportive family and my sociology degree (with its associated altruistic yet teensy paycheck), I had to decide between being able to afford a car, which would make the choices for child care suboptimal, or to live without a car and spend the bulk of my income on better childcare.  I chose the latter and have never looked back.

I met the love of my life and his daughter a few years ago and moved here to Boise, where we have slowly built a life that caters to bike commuting and living simply. Together, my family of four have twelve bikes (our ancient dog even has a trailer) and one (equally ancient) car, which is rarely driven. We sold my partner’s house and now live in a small home that is next to the bike path and the pristine Boise River. I sought out work at this amazing company, which, refreshingly, encourages wellness endeavors and just so happens to be less than a mile away from my home and across the street from my children’s school, with only one major street to cross. It may seem a stroke of luck, but mine is a lifestyle carefully engineered over several years to focus on the priority of living without being dependent on a car.

If you want to hear more about how Elaina stays on her bicycle during winter, spring, summer, and fall, check out Part 2 of this blog.

Ten Tips for a Healthy Mouth

CaptureKeeping your mouth healthy does more for you than give you a nice smile. In fact, dental health is important to your overall health. People who go to the dentist regularly and get their teeth cleaned have fewer issues with heart disease, strokes, diabetes, premature births, arthritis, and more. Here are ten things you can do to keep your mouth healthy:

  1. Visit your dentist twice per year. Your exams, x-rays, and cleanings are critical for everyday dental health. Don’t wait until your teeth or gums hurt to be seen!
  2. Brush your teeth twice daily, and floss once daily. If you brush but don’t floss, you’re missing out on 35 percent of the tooth’s surface. Gum disease is the leading cause of teeth loss for people ages 35 and older. It’s also the second most common disease in the United States, after the common cold.
  3. Start cleaning children’s teeth as soon as they first appear. This not only helps them keep their teeth healthy from the start, but it also teaches them healthy habits!
  4. Use fluoride. You can do this either with fluoridated water, toothpaste, or rinses. However, be careful with fluoride for young kids—too much fluoride can cause white spots on teeth. Just use a pea-size drop of toothpaste when they brush.
  5. Change your toothbrush three to four times per year. When the bristles of your toothbrush are frayed, your toothbrush isn’t cleaning your teeth and gums well enough. It’s also best to replace your toothbrush after an illness.
  6. Wear a mouthguard when playing sports. Sporting accidents are the leading causes of teeth loss for people younger than age 35.
  7. Don’t use (or quit using) tobacco. Smoking stains teeth and significantly increases your risk of gum disease and oral cancer.
  8. Be smart about what you eat. A well-balanced diet contributes to healthy teeth and gums.
  9. Avoid sugary food and drinks. Bacteria in your mouth breaks down sugars to produce acid, which erodes tooth enamel and starts the tooth decay process.
  10. Protect molars with sealants. The best time to have sealants placed is when permanent molars first start coming in. This helps protect the tops of these teeth.

Visit PacificSource.com for free online tools and resources to help you better manage your health.

Just Be Sneaky About Sneaking in Exercise

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can challenge our best intentions. Don’t let your hectic schedule interfere with physical activity. Find ways to sneak in exercise even when you’re busy.

  1. Power shop – Spend 10-15 minutes briskly walking through the mall before you start your shopping.
  2. Take the stairs – At work, the mall, the airport—wherever they are present—opt for the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator.
  3. Stage a walk-out – A brisk walk before dinner will have everyone looking forward to a warm meal. Together, your friends and family will get their metabolism going, lower their blood sugar levels, and work up a hearty appetite.
  4. Family time is fun time – Teach good fitness habits to your kids while accumulating benefits for yourself.
  5. Make a new holiday tradition – Play a family-friendly game of kickball or tag football on the holiday or the day after. Give everyone something else to look forward too than just food.

    Snowy ping pong

    Our staff sneaking out for a game of ping pong in the snow! Not recommended, but fun!

  6. To give is to receive – Holidays are about giving, and one of the best ways to give is to volunteer your time. Many communities offer opportunities to rake leaves or shovel snow for the elderly or disabled. This volunteer work is sure to make you sweat.
  7. Crank up the tunes and dance – With everyone home for the holidays, it’s a great time to turn up that jazzy holiday music and kick up your heels. Dancing burns lots of calories and can help you beat those winter blues!

These are all simple and easy ways to burn a few extra calories for when the holidays leave us in a daze.  What other ways can you find to be more active throughout the day?