A team of UVM Medical Center nurses get ready to bike the new Nurses' Trail.

A team of the UVM Medical Center nurses get ready to bike the new Nurses’ Trail.

The 2013 National Bike Challenge is underway, and once again, Vermont is in the lead amongst all 50 states.

The challenge is an exciting health and wellness initiative that encourages people to bike for transportation and recreation. In 2013, the goal is to have 50,000 riders pedal 20 million miles from May 1 to September 30. Every time you get on your bike, the miles count! Whether you are cycling for fitness, fun, or transportation, make sure to join and log your miles online. Already, bikers had logged 5 million miles – that’s the equivalent of traveling the Earth’s circumference 200 times!

In 2012, more than 70 the UVM Medical Center employees participated in the challenge, and we ranked among the Top 50 employers in the United States for participation. UVM Medical Center employees helped Vermont earn first place among the 50 states and catapulted Burlington to its status as top city for the challenge.

As a nurse, I’m working with my colleagues at the American Nurses Association to encourage nurses across the country to use the challenge as a fun, free and interactive way to improve personal fitness, build team camaraderie, and create healthy competition among workplaces and organizations. We got so excited about getting nurses biking that we opened our very own “Blazing Nursing History Trail Bike Ride” at the UVM Medical Center. The trail loops around Burlington, passing by locations where nurses have practiced and nursing artifacts are housed. The trail ends at the University of Vermont Rowell Building, home to the UVM College of Nursing. We invite you to ride it. Check out http://blazingnursinghistorytrail.blogspot.com/

How can you get started biking for health – and help Vermont win this year’s National Bike Challenge? Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Go local. Learn about biking opportunities, rentals, and trails from locally-based CATMA and Local Motion, our partners for this year’s challenge.
  2. Invite friends in on the fun. Get everyone in on the opportunity for wellness. Chart a course and be sure to do something fun together after you complete it.
  3. Track calories burned. In addition to logging your miles, check out how biking is helping you reach your exercise goals using this calorie calculator.
  4. Find a trail you love. I love cycling the Burlington Waterfront. It’s scenic and flat.
  5. Bike and sightsee. Opportunities are available to bike on vacation. I have used the Bixi Bike system in Montreal and Capital Bikeshare in Washington DC. Both are terrific, and a great way to get in some exercise while sightseeing.

Biking is an ideal way to build strength and muscle tone, improve your cardio-vascular fitness, and reduce stress.

See you out on the trail!

Hollie Shaner-McRae, DNP, RN, FAAN,  is coordinator of professional nursing practice at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

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