Tim Freyaldenhoven, M.D., Ph.D., on Cycling and Corporate Wellness

Tim Freyaldenhoven, M.D., Ph.D., is a neurologist with the Conway Regional Neuroscience Center. He was voted Best Doctor of 2019 and 2020 by AY Magazine readers.

In this week’s Q&A, Dr. Freyaldenhoven reviews how businesses can encourage fitness and activity among employees.

Q: How can businesses and organizations of all sizes incorporate cycling into their corporate wellness plans?

A: They can include some cycling facilities within their own infrastructure, such as indoor, covered bike parking, showers, and lockers. Business can also provide employees with incentives to ride for fitness. The city of Conway has supported the cycling community through its efforts to improve the quality of the biking trails and public access to bikes by purchasing bikes that can be rented via credit card.

Q: What tips do you have for someone who wants to bike to work?

A: Planning ahead is very important. You should think about the weather and traffic when you are planning your route. Also, think of errands that you might have that day, such as picking up the kids. Remember, some roads are more bike-friendly than others. It’s wise to scout at the same time of day as you plan to go cycling to make sure have picked an appropriate route. You can also upload applications, such as Strava, or use a Garvin GPS to help locate routes that are highly used by fellow cyclists.

Q: What are some ways that employers can incentivize employees to ride their bikes to work?

A: By providing health care and parking bonuses as pay back for taking up less parking spaces and lowering health care costs. You can offer extra PTO days and bike commuting bonuses or reimburse participation fees to employees in cycling events. Purchasing corporate bike jerseys is also helpful.

Q: How does promoting a culture of physical activity in the workplace benefit employees and employers?

A: It creates strong morale and a sense of community. Employees who ride report more energy. They are more engaged, happier, and less stressed. Therefore, they are friendlier to customers. There is also evidence that people who exercise perform better cognitively.

Q: What are some barriers to riding a bike to work that employers can help their employees overcome?

A: One of the major barriers is fear of cars and traffic. As an employer, you can help them out by planning routes and if there are many riders, you might involve local authorities so they can help employees feel safer. As part of a “bus system,” if there is going to be a lot of people, you can plan a route so that people can join the “bus” as they move along the route.

Q: Why would you recommend cycling as a sport to get healthier in general?

A: It provides aerobic exercise. It is a relatively low impact sport, which is good for people with neck pain and headaches as well as for people with bad knees or feet. It is very practical exercise in that you can use it for traveling, which has benefits for the community in terms of reducing crowded streets and pollution. It saves you money in terms of gas and upkeep for a car that you wouldn’t have to use as much. Cycling is good exercise for people who have had concussions and/or suffer from migraines. It increases the blood flow to the brain while keeping the head in a relatively stable position.

Exploring Your City Through Family and Community Rides with Josh Dickinson, D.O.

Josh Dickinson, D.O., is a general surgeon practicing at Conway Regional Surgical Associates.

Q: How did you get started cycling?  

A: I began mountain biking while I was in college at Cedarville University in Ohio.  

Q: What positive effects are there to cycling with the family?  

A:  It’s really been a great opportunity for me to spend time with my kids. I’m a coach for NICA (National Interscholastic Cycling Association), a competitive mountain biking organization, and my son Maxwell and daughter, Mclaine, compete in the sport. We also go on family joy rides and that gives all of us time to be together as a family, have adventures, and exercise all at the same time.  

Q: I don’t live near the paved bicycle trails, so most of our family rides take place around our neighborhood. What are some tips for ensuring the safety of my children when we ride our bicycles together on city streets?  

A:  My recommendations are always that no one even sits on the bike without a helmet and you have to check the chains and brakes prior to riding. It’s also a good idea to avoid trails that share space with cars. I made sure my children learned how to use hand signs, stop at intersections, and cross walks on the trail.  

Q: In what ways has cycling improved your health, both physically and mentally?  

A: Any chance that I have to get out in nature always raises my spirits. Biking is a low impact cardiovascular sport. Mountain bike has potential for more crashes a little bit of adrenaline keeps me interested.  

Q: You are relatively new to Conway. How would you rate the city’s support of cycling?  

A: I find that this is really a positive cycling community. Cars seem to be respectful of bikes. Trails are better maintained there is more of a pro cyclist atmosphere here in Conway. There are so many options for mountain biking, gravel biking, and road biking here. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get outdoors and spend time with your family. My family really likes the Tucker Creek trail that runs through Conway. Also the new pump track at Pompe Park is great for mountain biking.  

Introduction to Cycling with Tom Roberts, M.D.

Tom Roberts is an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine expert at Conway Regional Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine with more than 30 years of experience.

Q: What are some of the benefits of cycling and outdoor exercise in general?  
A: Being an orthopedic surgeon, I try to encourage people to do things to stay healthy. We enjoy life more when we are healthy. It is really important to find something that you can do that is good for your heart and biking is good for your heart, lungs, and muscles.   

Q: What is the appeal of cycling over other sports?
A: I had a knee injury in college and when I got into my 40’s, it hurt when I played sports and exercised. When I got into biking, I found out my knee didn’t hurt any more. I’ve found that a lot of my patients can turn biking and their orthopedic hip or knee doesn’t bother them that much.   

Q: What are the “must knows” when it comes to cycling?   
A: You find out early on that you want the cycling shorts for the padding. You should get lights that are attached to your bike. You need to learn the rules of the road, such as how to make turn signals in traffic. Another important aspect of cycling is choosing routes that are safe and not heavily traveled. A lot of us bike out by the new airport, in the Lollie Bottom area where there is not a lot of traffic and the roads are smooth. Also, you need to get a bike that is comfortable. The mountain bike that I had when Joanie and I got married still works but I couldn’t do what I do on my new bike.  

Q: What are the social benefits of cycling?  
A: Johnny Adams, a good friend of mine, got me started. The biking community here is very welcoming and over time you’ll find a group that you fit with, which is awesome. Cycling is sport that you can do with other couples as well.  

Q: What are some of the most enjoyable aspects of cycling?  
A: If you are a social person, you can go with a group. Cycling with a group is really much safer. We usually get tired and stop, get some water or Gatorade, and visit a little. It’s just fun. You get the enjoyment of being tired when you’re done but you don’t feel like your body is beat up when you are done. There are different stages of cycling in the area. There are people who just ride for enjoyment and there are very competitive cyclists. Even if you are just getting started, you can get into a group.