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Biking and the swine flu

You've no doubt heard the frightening news these past two weeks about the outbreak of swine flu.

Luckily the danger seems to be subsiding, even while the World Health Organization is still debating whether or not we have a pandemic on our hands.

Still, there are a few things you should know about riding a bike and the way it affects your resistance to disease.

First the good news. Obviously, if you spend time on a crowded bus or subway, crammed up close to people who are coughing and sneezing, touching the rail that hundreds of other people have touched...well, you get the picture.

If you commute on a bike instead, you've got your own personal space, and you won't have a lot of sick people breathing their germs in your face. It that's not a good enough reason to ride your bike to work, then here's some more.

There's mounting evidence that regular, moderate exercise boosts your immune system. While you're biking to work, or anywhere else, you're setting off a lot of changes inside your body that make it harder for germs to get a foothold.

I'll spare you all the technical stuff, but if you want to know more, here's the link to an article about the health benefits of bike exercise.

But that doesn't mean you should go out and do a double century every day. The other thing the research has shown is that overtraining can actually have the opposite effect, and weaken your immune system.

In other words, take it easy, but don't be idle.

The broad use of antibiotics, overcrowding as more people move to cities around the globe, the transportation of food and animals from continent to continent, and general environmental degradation are having an impact. We're breeding superbugs that are more infectious and harder to fight.

Riding a bike is one way to help restore some sanity and balance to the world. It's a big first step in creating a sustainable future for humanity.

At the very least, it will keep you much better equipped to deal with the hazards of an uncertain future.

Ride on, and keep your spirits up!

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