Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cycling for fitness,including to the masjid

********************** In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. ********************** Reflection *********************** “Invite to the way of your Rabb with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious, for your Rabb knows best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance." (An-Nahl: 125) ************************** The haze is back. Other than open burning that is often associated with this phenomenon, another factor that contributes to the unhealhty air and environment around us is the emmision of carbon, soot and smoke by motorized vehicles. **************************** But this factor is often swept under the carpet because if serious actions were to be taken, many would be effected in different ways such as people in the business world and thus jeopardize development of the nation. ************************* In certain countries especially European nations, they go for the green concept including promoting the usage of non motorized vehicles such as bicycles. Unfortunately our country is not serious about this concept but luckily there are groups of people who are aware about the importance of safeguarding the healthy environment and one way to contribute to the welfare of the country is by 'leaving behind' our cars or motorcycles and opting out for public transport or using the bicycle. ***************************** Frankly speaking, our country with its rather hot climate (different from those temperate Europen nations) makes the situation unconfortable for workers to cycle to and fro their workplace, but one thing for sure bicycles would be handy for short distances such as for going out to do some grocery at a shop next door in a 'taman' (housing estate) or visiting relatives living nearby. ************************ And as the writer found out, it is practical and quite economical to cycle to the kampung's masjid for the five times daily prayers. As a pensioner, I have opted for this mode of transport after my trustworthy 'Kapcai' of more than 20 years 'kaput' in March last year, and have found out that there are lot of benefits in cycling. But I do not depend solely on the bicycle to go to the masjid; at certain times for example when the wheather is too hot in the afternoon, I would rather take my car. *************************** But remember, short trips are no good for your car what more with the rising gas prices. So drive less, including not going on short trips. Cold starts are hard on engines, our gas mileage and the environment. Short trips can also significantly shorten the life of our cars. ******************************* So why should I take the car, if I could 'cover' the half kilometer journey to the masjid in under five minutes by my newly trustworthy 'friend' - a new Japanese bicycle? Well it was very light, I bought it for only RM200 and it has 'faithfully served' me for more than a year now. ************************** What benefit would I would get by cycling other than saving money and preserving the environment? A newspaper article published recently caught my attention. ************************** Among others it noted, cycling is a good cardiovascular exercise to take up as it involves low impact and controlled movement in a stable position. Much of your body weight is taken by the bicycle, so there is less strain on your lower back and hips. Cycling regulary at a moderate level will increase your heart rate and breathing. It is also a good way to improve your cardiovascular heath and strengthen your legs. ************************** Bicycling is an effective and enjoyable exercise. There are lots of great reasons to consider cycling as a way of maintaining and improving your fitness, below are other benefits: ************************ * A simple way to stay and get fit - Bicyling helps improve overall fitness, as the use of your legs, bottom, and abdominal muscles increase your metabolism and muscle tone. Cycling your bike regulary is also good for your heart. As you cycle, blood supply to your body increased, therefore increasing your heart rate. This will reduce the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. ************************ A bike with several speeds allows you to increase your fitness level as your cardiovascular function improves. Begin by riding at an easy speed, over even ground. If you are looking for something more challenging, change your terrain and choose more difficult routes. For example, cycling up an incline is a great way to fitness. ************************ * Improve your balance - Building better balance is something best done on a bicycle. Balance is the heart of everything you do, especially when riding a bike. When you ride a bicycle, you stay upright and find a balance between your body and bike. ************************ By maintaining that balace, it strengthens the core muscles in your abdominal region. Tightening your core muscles will keep you from falling off and crashing your bike. As you progress, and become a better rider, you increase your balance over time. ********************* * Friendly exercise - Arthritis in the knee can put people off exercising, but inacativity. can lead to joint stiffness, muscle weakness, weight gain, and fatigue. Compaared to some forms of exercise, cycling is relatively knee-friendly and is often used in knee joint rehabilitation. The aerobic benefit is comparable to jogging, or running without the strain. ************************* It is best to avoid hills, if you have knee problems, and to shift gears to as low as possible. If you have had knee or hip replacement, check with your doctor or 'physiotherapist' before taking up bike riding. ************************** * Weight loss - With a calorie-controlled diet, cycling helps to burn excess fats, resulting in weight loss when you cycle regulary. *************************** * Stress release - Cycling is a great way to release your stress from daily work. You can take you bike out and enjoy nature. It can also be a great social activity, as families and friends can share the experience, which helps to foster closer ties and give you the opportunity to communicate with one another. ************************** Feeling good with yourself and with your loved ones is one of the greatest benefits you can get from this exercise. And at the same time, being able to please Allah, insya-Allah (God willing) by going frequently to the masjid for my prayers could be achieved by cycling so what more I am asking when ever we recited this 'du'a' (prayers) "Rabbana atina fid-dunya hasanatan wa fil 'akhirati hasanatan waqina 'adhaban-nar." (Our Lord! grant us good in this world and good in the hereafter, and save us from the chastisement of the fire) ***************************** Well, there are many benefits of riding bicycles, but why are our countrymen avoiding it in their daily lives except for a few groups of people such as school-children? Even students in universities shy away from using bicycles, the majority of them prefer motorcyles that contributed to unhealthy living and environment. ************************** In my my opinion this is because our society looks down upon those using bicycles but have high respect to those owning big and flashy cars and 'high powered motorcycles'. ************************ This mentality must be removed; the people must know that there are about one billion bicycles worldwide, twice as many as cars. The global bicycle market was US$60 billion (RM183 billion) in 2011 and some 130 million bicycles are sold every year globally. Why we only envy the confidence shown by stylish cyclists in far away countries such as Denmark, Belgium, Holland and even China but not put in in practise here? **************************** With the awareness for a healthy living and environment, in my opinion it is timely for the relevant authorities to project and promote the usage of bicycles; questions such as the safety of cylists should be of high pririoty. Are our roads safe for use by cyclists and if not, are there any plans to make them 'friendly' to cyclists or provide bicycle lanes for them? ************************ To our drivers, please 'open your eyes' for cyclists; they too have the right, like other vehicles users, to use the road and be shown courtesy and care by other road users. *************************** As for me, it is 'not stylish' for me to go a short distance for such purposes such as going to the masjid on my 'Japanese bicycle', but please do think of my contribution in helping the environment and better still help me in reducing my expenses from my meagre income since becoming a pensioner more than a year ago. Well, have bike, will travel!

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