Cycling For Health And Fitness

You can cycle as a mode of transport, for casual activity, or as an intense, competitive endeavour. Cycling is a wonderful workout that keeps you active. It can help shape a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally. The adventure and buzz you get from coasting down hills and being outdoors mean that you are more likely to continue to cycle regularly, compared to other physical activities that keep you indoors or require special times or places.

Cycling can improve both physical and mental health, and can reduce the chances of experiencing several health problems, some of which have been listed below.

Cycling And Mental Health

Regular cyclists often talk about the ‘cycling high’, similar to the well-recognised ‘runner’s high’. Cycling pumps blood around your body at a greater rate which allows for the rapid spread of endorphins and other good substances like dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.

Self-Esteem, depression, anxiety and stress are all positively affected through exercise, but the nature of cycling is one of the most effective activities for the heart and brain.

Top 5 Benefits Of Cycling

Though there are several benefits to cycling, here’s a list of the top 5 ones that will help you motivate yourself to pick up cycling as a workout today. Check them out!

Cycling Promotes Weight Loss

Biking is often considered to be one of the good low-impact options for aerobic exercise. It allows you to get your heart rate up with less wear and tear on your knees, ankles, and other joints, compared with running or jogging.

If you’re trying to lose weight, or want to maintain weight loss that you’ve worked hard to achieve, biking can be a great way to achieve this goal. However, if you are looking to maximize your weight loss and fat burn, you might want to turn up your cycling workout up a notch. Here are a few ways you can do that:

  • High-Intensity Interval Training - This type of exercise can help you burn more calories in less time, as well as improve your cardio fitness and help you lose fat too.
  • Cross-Training - If you don’t like getting locked into one activity, cross-training may be for you. As the name suggests, it’s a great way to add variety to your workouts by alternating activities.
  • Increase Intensity - Pedaling along at a leisurely pace probably won’t do much to help you lose weight. However, if you push yourself to work harder and up the intensity of your ride, you’ll make more progress toward your weight loss goal.

Cycling Builds Muscle

The resistance element of cycling means that it doesn't just burn fat, it also builds muscle - particularly around the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. Cycling tones and works many muscles in the body. While the primary muscles targeted are certainly the lower body muscles, the arm muscles, as well as the core, also get in a great workout. 

Muscle is leaner than fat, and people with a higher percentage of muscle burn more calories even when sedentary. 

The most obvious area of muscle building during bike rides is the lower body, more specifically the legs. Besides that, cycling targets the gluteal muscles, otherwise known as the buttocks. The core musculature, which includes the back and stomach, is also worked during rides. Tights abs enable the rider to pedal stronger and more efficiently, also serving to take pressure off of the lower back muscles.

Finally, cycling also strengthens the upper body. While success in this area of the body is least commonly attributed to cycling, there is something to be said about the effect riding can have on the arms and the shoulders.

Cycling Helps People With Cancer

There’s plenty of evidence that any exercise is useful in warding off cancer, but some studies have shown that cycling is specifically good for keeping your cells in working order.

One long-term study carried out by The University of Glasgow researched over 260,000 individuals over five years and found that cycling to work can cut the rider’s risk of developing heart disease or cancer in half. Other studies have found that women who cycle frequently reduce their risk of breast cancer by 34 per cent.

Cycling Builds Your Core

Cycling also works your core muscles, including your back and abdominals. Maintaining your body upright and keeping the bike in position requires a certain amount of core strength. Strong abdominals and back muscles support your spine, increase stability, and improve comfort while cycling. Starting your day with a healthy activity like cycling wakes you up by boosting your circulation and allows you to start your day with a sense of accomplishment. This often leads to feeling more inclined towards making healthy choices and decisions.

Cycling Is Eco Friendly

Twenty bicycles can be parked in the same space as one car. It takes around 5 per cent of the materials and energy used to make a car to build a bike, and a bike produces zero pollution. Bikes are efficient, too. You travel around three times as fast as walking for the same amount of energy. While keeping you fit, it also keeps the environment fit. And that’s just the cherry on top.

Body Parts That Benefit From Cycling

Cycling Lung Health

You won't be alone if this point seems contradictory to common sense. But a recent study suggests that people who ride a bike are exposed to fewer dangerous fumes than those who travel by car.

Cycling Pumps Up Heart

Cycling raises your heart rate and gets the blood pumping around your body, and it burns calories, limiting the chance of your being overweight. According to researchers from Purdue University, cycling just 20 miles a week reduces your risk of heart disease to less than half that of those who take no exercise.

Cycling Helps Burn Belly Fat

To get rid of belly fat, you need to remove fat from all over your body and not just target one spot. To lose weight, you need to do exercises that raise your heart rate, which will help you burn fat faster. Combining your cycling workout with a healthy eating plan can give you faster tummy-flattening results. Just be smart and ensure that you snack sensibly as you work harder to get that fabulous body and improve overall health.

Is Cycling Better Than Running?

Your ankles, knees, hips, and other joints can be put under a lot of stress when running, jogging, jumping, or doing other high-impact aerobic exercises.

Running is weight-bearing and therefore injuries are higher. On the contrary, cycling is not weight-bearing. In general, running burns more calories than cycling because it uses more muscles. However, cycling is gentler on the body, and you may be able to do it longer or faster than you can run.

Neither cycling nor running stands out as a far better option than the other. Pick whichever one fits your lifestyle to ensure you’ll enjoy it and stick with it. You can also switch between the two to reap the benefits of each activity and prevent boredom.

Hand Cycling And Health

Handcycles are similar to recumbent tricycles, but they are powered with hand instead of foot pedals. Velcro straps can be and are often used to secure the hands to the pedals if necessary. This style of tricycle allows amputees, people with spinal injuries and those recovering from certain conditions such as stroke to cycle as a form of exercise and recreation. Hand cyclists get cardiovascular and aerobic benefits similar to those of other cyclists. 

Before choosing a handcycle, it’s best to consult your doctor about which type of handcycle would be best for you. You should choose one that you can peddle without straining yourself or causing injury, but is still difficult enough to ride that it provides a workout.

Gym Cycling Benefits

If riding on the road is not your thing, or if the pandemic is restricting you in any way, this might be the best time to add a stationary cycle to your home gym. Cycling outdoors can be a great way to exercise, but it does come with certain hazards, such as inattentive drivers, uneven or slick road surfaces, and poor visibility.

Riding a stationary exercise bike is an efficient and effective way to burn calories and body fat while strengthening your heart, lungs, and muscles. Riding a stationary bike can help build strength in your legs and lower body, especially if you use a higher resistance. Compared to some other types of cardio equipment, a stationary bicycle puts less stress on your joints, but it still provides an excellent aerobic workout. Another pro? You can watch your favourite sitcom or stand-up comedy videos while doing it.

Why choose the bike? Cycling to work can reduce the time of your commute, and free you from the confines of germ infused buses and trains. 

Benefits of Cycling Daily

1. More Brainpower

One of the major benefits of cycling daily is that it enhances brain power and helps to prevent Alzheimer's disease in the elderly, according to a review of studies published in 2011. In 2017, a scientific literature assessment on the cycling exercise benefits came to the same conclusion—exercise enhances cognitive function and helps to slow down the ageing process. Seniors, however, aren't the only ones who benefit: A 2014 study published in Pediatrics found that time spent on the bike has a favorable influence on children and that exercise can help with disorders such as attention deficit disorder.

2. Improved Heart Health

Cycling is also beneficial to your cardiovascular system. A five-year study looked at the activities of 1,500 people. Those who cycled daily had a 31% lower risk of developing high blood pressure. Another study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2018 indicated that a vigorous workout could decrease blood pressure as effectively as prescription medications.

3. Lowered Risk of Cancer

Maintaining a healthy weight, a conscientious diet, and cycling exercise benefit and lower your cancer risk. In a 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers looked at over 14,000 men. They found that those who were physically fit as they neared middle age had a lower risk of lung and colorectal cancer.

4. Slower Ageing

Researchers found that high-intensity cycling exercise benefits anti-ageing. People who completed high-intensity exercises exhibited an increase in mitochondrial capacity, according to a 2017 study. Because a loss in mitochondria can lead to physical deterioration, the better your mitochondria work, the more revitalised you will be on a cellular level.

5. Less Stress

Another benefit of cycling daily is that it helps to reduce stress. According to a 2018 study published in The Lancet with over one million participants, cycling is one of the top stress-busting sports. When compared to non-cyclists, cyclists had 21.6 per cent fewer days of poor mental health. This was second only to team sports (22.3 per cent), higher than other aerobic and gym activities. Simply grouping your rides can help you gain the social benefits of a team activity while increasing your number of pleasant days.

6. Lower-Body Strengthening

It should come as no surprise that cycling exercise benefits your lower body. When you pedal, your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves are all activated, and you may raise the strength test on these muscles by increasing the resistance on your bike. Cycling can help you gain muscle and strength, according to a 2015 study, however, it's unlikely to be as effective as resistance exercise and may require a longer training period.

7. Boosts Mental Health

Cycling can help you feel less stressed, depressed, or anxious. Cycling while concentrating on the road allows you to build attention and awareness of the present moment. This may help you focus on something other than your day's mental noise. If you're feeling sluggish or listless, go on your bike and ride for at least 10 minutes. Endorphins are released throughout the exercise and make you feel better while lowering stress levels. Once you make riding a regular part of your life, you may feel more confident and pleased.

8. Improves Balance, Posture, and Coordination

Yet another benefit of cycling is that it enhances your overall balance, coordination, and posture by stabilizing your body and keeping your bike upright. Balance deteriorates with age and inactivity; thus, it is critical to maintaining it. Improved balance aids in the prevention of falls and fractures, which can put you on the sidelines while you recuperate.

9. Obesity and Weight Control

Cycling increases your metabolic rate, builds muscle, and burns body fat, making it an excellent way to maintain or lose weight. Cycling must be linked with a healthy food plan if you want to reduce weight. Cycling is a relaxing kind of exercise that can be adjusted in terms of time and intensity. It may be gradually increased and varied to fit your needs. Exercise should burn at least 8,400 kilojoules (approximately 2,000 calories) every week, according to research. Cycling at a steady pace burns roughly 1,200 kilojoules (300 calories) every hour. The kilojoules burned quickly pile up if you cycle twice a day. According to British studies, a daily half-hour bike ride burns approximately five kilograms of fat over a year.

10. Diabetes and Cycling

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is rising, posing a severe public health threat. Physical inactivity is known to be a primary factor in the development of this illness. According to large-scale studies in Finland, people who cycled for more than 30 minutes each day had a 40% decreased chance of acquiring diabetes.

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