Cycling is a low impact aerobic exercise that offers a wealth of benefits. It also varies in intensity, so it’s suitable for all levels. You can cycle as a mode of transportation, for casual activity, or as an intense, competitive endeavor.
Riding to work or the shops is one of the most time-efficient ways to combine regular exercise with your everyday routine.
Cycling is a wonderful workout that keeps you active. It can help shape a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally. And the bonuses to cycling, are as numerous as the beautiful roads you can find.
Cycling for health and fitness
It only takes two to four hours a week to achieve a general improvement to your health. Cycling is:
- Low impact – it causes less strain and injuries than most other forms of exercise.
- A good muscle workout– cycling uses all of the major muscle groups as you pedal.
- Easy – unlike some other sports, cycling does not require high levels of physical skill. Most people know how to ride a bike and, once you learn, you don’t forget.
- Good for strength and stamina– cycling increases stamina, strength and aerobic fitness.
- As intense as you want– cycling can be done at very low intensity to begin with, if recovering from injury or illness, but can be built up to a demanding physical workout.
- A fun way to get fit– the adventure and buzz you get from coasting down hills and being outdoors means you are more likely to continue to cycle regularly, compared to other physical activities that keep you indoors or require special times or places.
- Time-efficient – as a mode of transport, cycling replaces sedentary (sitting) time spent driving motor vehicles or using trams, trains or buses with healthy exercise.
Health benefits of regular cycling
Cycling is mainly an aerobic activity, which means that your heart, blood vessels and lungs all get a workout. You will breathe deeper, perspire and experience increased body temperature, which will improve your overall fitness level.
The health benefits of regular cycling include:
- increased cardiovascular fitness
- increased muscle strength and flexibility
- improved joint mobility
- decreased stress levels
- improved posture and coordination
- strengthened bones
- decreased body fat levels
- prevention or management of disease
- reduced anxiety and depression.
Cycling and specific health issues
1. Cycling may help you lose weight
Cycling habitually, especially at a high intensity, can help lower your body fat levels, which promotes healthy weight management.
Additional studies suggest that including sprint and strength training with regular cycling may temporarily increase your metabolism and build muscle, which allows you to burn more calories, even while at rest.
2. Cycling may lower cholesterol
The health-enhancing effects of cycling may help improve cholesterol levels, which can boost your cardiovascular health and lower your chances of stroke and heart attack.
3. Cycling boosts mental health and brain power
Cycling can ease feelings of stress, depression, or anxiety. Focusing on the road or your cadence when cycling can help you develop concentration and awareness of the present moment. This may help take your focus away from the mental chatter of your day.
Exercise promotes the release of endorphins in your body, which helps you feel better while lowering your stress levels.
4. Cycling can help people with cancer
Cycling is a fantastic addition to your care plan if you have or are recovering from cancer. However, many cancer patients experience low energy and pain during treatment, so be sure to work with your care team, listen to your body, and exercise only if you’re up for it.
5. Cycling may help prevent and manage medical conditions
Whether you want to prevent health concerns from arising or manage existing conditions, regular exercise is key. Cycling regularly is one way to avoid a sedentary lifestyle and its possible accompanying health concerns.
Regular exercise can help prevent heart issues such as stroke, heart attack, and high blood pressure.
Very recent research suggests regular cycling can lower mortality rates for people with diabetes by 24% and, if continued for at least 5 years, can decrease mortality rates by 35%.
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