So, this week I visited Amsterdam.
I’m sure anyone who has also visited the place will agree with me in saying there’s an awful lot of interesting things going on there.
For anyone expecting me to go down the obvious route with this you’re going to be disappointed.
Recently a lot of our blogs have been centered around increasing daily activity outside the gym.
When I first arrived in Amsterdam we were warned over the speakers no fewer than five times to ‘watch out for cyclists’ this struck me as being excessive. I realised it wasn’t as soon as I stepped off the bus.
You see the thing that surprised me most about Amsterdam was the number cyclists. In fact I won’t use the term cyclist as it tends to create a vision of spandex clad fanatics part way through a mid life crisis. These were just normal people in normal clothes going about there daily lives.
I was also struck by the sheer variety of people cycling and the utter contempt and confidence they displayed whilst being in what most would consider a vulnerable position.
I came to conclusion that the reason they are so confident in what they do is because they are brought up doing it. There was very young children in carts attached to their parents bikes they would then progress onto their own bikes and eventually into very confident adults.
How many of us Brits can honestly say we would be confident cycling on our roads? I’m guessing very few, I certainly wouldn’t. I understand this is largely due to infrastructure and if there was a similar effort to what I seen In Amsterdam then maybe more people would be compelled to start cycling although I suspect not.
Another thing I was almost in awe of was the age of some of those cycling about. They were legitimate OAP’s. Most of the elderly people I know struggle to walk to the bus stop let alone cycle around a busy city. Again how much of this comes from a lifetime of cycling I don’t know.
What I do know is that if it was easy and safe for us to cycle to work and back every day and maybe to the shops when needed it would go an awful long way to keeping you fit, healthy and active without the need for gym memberships. It would also allow you to utilise an otherwise dead hour and save you that hour in the gym on a night away from family.
It’s bizarre that Britain seems to be far more gym and diet obsessed than our European neighbours yet it’s us facing an obesity epidemic.
The problem? The people I’ve spoke about so far probably don’t see cycling as exercise. It’s just a means to an end, the majority probably even enjoy it. The same as the majority of Europe don’t consider of eating good food in moderation as ‘dieting’ they just call it ‘eating’ imagine that.
Maybe it’s about time we started taking a lesson in lifestyle from our friends on the continent because it sure seems to be keeping them happy and healthy.
Either that or it’s the weed but we’ll leave that one until another day.