My secret work weapon is cycling. Now, you might be thinking that there is nothing secret about the global phenomenon of "mamils" (middle-aged men in lycra) cycling, but the impact of replacing a commute by train with a commute by bike has without doubt become an indispensable ingredient to a successful day at work for me.
There's a lot of research on the health benefits that back up my own experience. It’s an excellent way to get your heart rate up, triggering the release of endorphins, the body's feel-good chemicals.
For me though, the real secret to my working day is that through cycling I've discovered mindfulness. The opportunity to be really focused on the present while cycling, particularly with a commute that takes me through Richmond Park, often at dusk or dawn, gives me full attention to all my senses and surroundings without distraction.
As a result, I get to work energised, positive, and ready to start the new day. The ride into work clears my mind of clutter and arriving each day with a clear slate improves my decision-making, productivity and general outlook to the day. I’ve certainly seen improvements in my approach to work and problem-solving since I took up cycling.
I think we underestimate just how valuable mindfulness can be. We tend to operate at 100 miles an hour: rushing to work, eager to make that bus/train/tube, keen to blast the latest favourite track through our headphones (often to the dismay of the other commuters). And it’s the same at the end of the day: you have to make that train before it gets too crowded or I might have to wait an hour for the next one. A healthy, much more pleasant commute, underpinned by a healthy state of mind has dramatically improving my everyday wellbeing.
For me, mindfulness through cycling has become my invisible support system. As such, I arrive at work with more energy than a double espresso, and return home free of the pressures of the day. This makes me sleep better, feel better, and I am undoubtedly more fun to be around – the perfect bookends to my working day.