By Omar from outdoorlabwithj.com
You’ve heard it all before – exercise is good for you! But what about individual activities? If you are thinking of taking up a new fitness based hobby, you may be wondering what benefits you will get from cycling. Will you get any particular health benefits from cycling?
You hear all the time that cycling is good for you, but why is that? Why should you start cycling? Well, we’re here to enlighten you. Here are some of the many health benefits of cycling to help you to get a head start on revitalizing your health and wellbeing.
Fitness & Health: A Connection
There is often a direct correlation between a person’s fitness and their health. If a person is more physically active, there is a much lower chance of them getting serious health issues in the future. Since cycling is a form of physical activity, you can reap the same benefits from cycling too. Here are just some of the ways that cycling is linked to your health.
Cycling Helps To Protect You From Serious Diseases Such As Stroke And Heart Attacks
If you are an older adult, you may be happy to learn that cycling for a mere 20 minutes every day can do wonders for reducing your chance of getting heart disease. In fact, exercise in general has been shown to do wonders for your cardiovascular health. It can help to improve the cholesterol levels in your body, and reduce blood pressure. Since high blood pressure is strongly linked to stroke risk, you are minimizing your risk of having a stroke and a heart attack by getting some physical activity into your day.
You don’t need to wait for ages after beginning an exercise program to reap the benefits, either. In fact, many people will notice big changes in their health not long after taking up a new activity. The CDC recommends that an adult gets 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, and it can be incredibly easy to achieve this, especially if you use your bicycle to commute to work.
Not only that, but cycling can actually reduce your risk of dying sooner. If you are cycling fairly regularly, then you are much less likely to get a wide variety of illnesses and diseases that can cut your life short, including dementia and Alzheimer’s, various kinds of cancer and more.
If you have already suffered from a heart attack or stroke, then it’s not too late to get into cycling either! In fact, cycling using Functional Electrical Stimulation Bikes (FES) has been shown to be fantastic in the recovery of strokes.
Often, people that have suffered with a stroke can have some form of physical impairment afterwards, such as weakness on one side of the body. As such, rehabilitation is often necessary to return to normal functioning. FES cycling is a good way to encourage recovery since it encourages repetitive motion and is often much easier for patients than gait training. A person’s risks for getting another stroke are much higher after they have already had one, and cycling after the fact can often help a patient to minimize their risks of going through it again.
Strengthens Your Immune System
Your immune system is vital for your body’s basic functioning. It helps to fight off viruses, parasites and bacteria that can make us ill. It’s important for recuperation after injuries, and so many more things. Your immune system is essentially responsible for ensuring that you always feel your best.
Unfortunately, your immune system function does begin to get worse as you age, from your 20s onwards. The decline is a gradual one, but it’s still important to mention. That’s a big reason why it’s so important to ensure that you are doing things to allow your immune system to function as well as it possibly can. You can encourage your immune system to be in top working order by eating well, and consuming plenty of foods containing antioxidants.
Another huge thing that impacts your immune system is – you guessed it – exercise. This is where cycling comes in. There are actually studies that have discovered that long distance cyclists can often have the immune system that you would expect from that of a 20 year old person, even well into their 70s and 80s.
The main reason for this is because people who regularly cycle long distances are usually creating a similar amount of T cells to people in their 20s, which is incredibly important for your immune system.
Of course, you don’t have to wait many years to experience the positive effects of cycling on your immune system either. In fact, cycling may possibly help you to get rid of any harmful bacteria currently hanging out in your body. You are also less likely to get more of this bacteria into your body because you have a higher body temperature from the physical activity. In short, if you are looking to see some major improvements in your immune system, it’s definitely a good idea to take up cycling.
Fitness & Mental Health: A Correlation
Your physical health isn’t the only thing that can benefit from cycling and physical activity, either. In fact, there is a strong link between your fitness and mental health. When you exercise, your body is producing endorphins. This helps to keep you happy! Here are a few of the ways that your fitness and mental health are linked.
Cycling Improves Mental Well-Being
Cycling is known for having massive effects on your wellbeing. This happens for a variety of reasons. First of all, cycling is good for your mental health because it encourages you to exercise outside. Being out in nature can help you to feel more alive and energetic. This is something that you simply can’t get when you are confined within 4 walls in your local gym. Both the fresh air and physical activity have been proven to be great mood boosters, so it should come as no surprise that cycling in the great outdoors is good for your general wellbeing.
Secondly, cycling does not have to be an activity that you perform in isolation. Sure, some people enjoy cycling on their own, seeing new parts of the world in their own time. If you would prefer to be around people though, it’s certainly an option. You can go cycling with family, friends or even join a cycling club. This is great for your mental wellbeing since being around people can help you to feel more uplifted.
You can experience the benefits of cycling even if you don’t cycle long distances too. Even just 5 or 10 minutes on your bike each morning can make a huge difference to your mood. Plus, you could even cycle to somewhere that you have always wanted to visit and enjoy the destination once you get there since cycling is also such a great mode of transportation.
Boosts Your Mood
Cycling, and physical activity in general, have been proven to impact your mental health. This is because exercise can alter the activity in your brain! When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals and hormones known as endorphins, alongside serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals are known to help people to feel much better mentally. If you exercise on a regular basis then you are more likely to feel positive in your everyday life. Cycling is also great for improving a person’s self esteem and can be a good way to practice mindfulness too.
Plus, who doesn’t like getting to enjoy nature and feeling the wind running through their hair? It’s enough to make anyone feel happier!
Reduces Anxiety And Depression
One particular research study has demonstrated that doing aerobic activities can reduce anxiety and its related symptoms. It can help sufferers to keep their anxiety in check. Cycling has been proven to decrease stress levels too, and stress can be a common contributor to anxiety. Your body releases endorphins when you ride your bike, and this sends signals to make you feel more relaxed.
Not only that, but cycling has also been shown to prevent and treat depression. By getting some physical activity 3 times a week, you can massively reduce your chances of becoming depressed. Of course, it’s always important to note that depression and anxiety are debilitating mental health concerns for many people, so exercise isn’t going to be a fix-all cure, but it can certainly help you to feel a little better. It’s especially effective when used alongside talking therapy techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
In short, if you are looking to improve your mental health and wellbeing, you have nothing to lose from getting some cycling into your week. In fact, you may even find that incorporating more physical activity into your life does a lot of good for you in both the short and the long term.
The Health Benefits Of Cycling
Cycling comes with a wide variety of different health benefits – you may have heard of many of them! It’s part of the reason why it’s such a popular form of exercise. Cycling is convenient – it doubles as both a form of exercise and also a mode of transportation. There are a whole plethora of reasons to take up this form of exercise! For more information, we’ve compiled this list of some of the major health benefits that you may experience if you take up cycling.
Promotes Weight Loss
One of the main reasons that a lot of people decide to start cycling is so that they can lose weight. Perhaps people will take up a spin class in their local gym because they have heard that it really torches those calories.
In reality, cycling is a very effective way to lose weight. It’s a form of aerobic exercise that will burn calories since your heart rate increases as you work out. Weight loss basically comes down to an energy equation – if you want to lose weight, then you need to be burning more calories than you are consuming. The opposite is true if weight gain is your goal. In this respect, cycling is very effective.
Not only that, but cycling is also a low impact activity that doesn’t involve hurting your knees and ankles like an exercise such as running would. This means that it’s a good choice if you tend to struggle with your joints.
It’s always important to mention that exercise is just one part of the equation when it comes to losing weight. If you want to be truly successful with weight loss, then the best thing to do is to combine a healthy eating regime with plenty of exercise. This doesn’t mean that you need to eat a boring salad for every meal – it means having a balance between your proteins, fats and carbohydrates to create a balanced diet. Ultimately, if you are eating fewer calories than you are consuming then there’s a good chance that you will lose weight if there aren’t any other factors at play. To figure out what you are burning, it’s worthwhile to look into what your basal metabolic rate is and figure out what your calorie intake is from there. There are online calculators to help you to figure that out!
Basically, cycling is a really good way to truly torch off some of those excess calories. You don’t even need to exercise for hours on end, either. Even just 10 to 15 minutes a day can make a huge difference when combined with the right eating habits. You can even go for a bike ride with some friends and family to do some socializing while you’re getting exercise.
Not only can you lose weight from cycling, but you can also build a lot of muscle too.
First, it’s important to understand how someone builds muscle. You will build muscle by putting strain on your muscles. Your muscles go through something known as hypertrophy when you put them under any form of resistance. The muscles tear and then repair over the coming days, and this makes them stronger. When you are cycling, you are also going to be dealing with resistance, especially if you are riding uphill or going through high gears. In particular, cycling will work your quads, glutes and other muscles in your lower body such as the hamstrings. With time, you can expect to see more muscle growth from riding your bicycle, especially if you do it on a regular basis.
Of course, humans are experts at adaptation. With cardiovascular activity, our bodies eventually get used to the level of activity that we are doing, meaning that weight loss is less likely unless we increase the intensity. The same is true for resistance based training. If you want to keep on seeing muscle growth results then you’ll need to kick it up a notch. You will need to go further and work harder to see the results that you want. It’s usually best, then, to combine cycling with a resistance training regime using weights if you want to see continuous results in this department. Nevertheless, cycling can certainly be a good way to get in those muscle gains. Just make sure that you are getting plenty of rest and recovery time too – recovery is also important for gaining muscle!
Improved Lung Health
Cycling is a fantastic way to improve the effectiveness of your lungs. Your lungs are working pretty hard when you’re riding your bicycle, after all. If you want to improve your cardiovascular fitness and thus cardiovascular system, you will need to ensure that you are doing enough physical activity. If you cycle more often, then you can improve the health of your lungs and ultimately you can do even more exercise without making yourself too tired. If your lungs are more efficient then that can have some great effects on your overall health.
As we’ve previously mentioned, one of the biggest benefits of cycling is that it’s a low impact activity. You aren’t going to put excessive strain on your lower body from cycling since you aren’t making impact with the ground. This makes it the perfect activity for people that struggle with their joints in their lower body.
Great For Strength And Stamina
If you want to improve your stamina and strength as a whole, it’s definitely worth your time to take up cycling. Your body will learn to adapt to physical activity after a while, making you more equipped to deal with physical stressors like long walks or long cycling trips. It’s pretty easy too, making it a simple way to get into exercise without needing a whole lot of skill.
Fun Way To Get Fit
For many people, fun and fitness seem like two words that are polar opposites of one another, but they don’t have to be. There are very few things that are more exhilarating than whizzing down hills and feeling the breeze course over you as you ride your bike. It’s also something you can do with others, making it a lot of fun.
If you’re struggling to sleep at night, do some cycling during the day. The calorie burning can make you feel pretty tired, giving you a restful night’s sleep afterwards.
Improved Balance And Coordination
Cycling isn’t a particularly difficult activity, but it does require a bit of balance and coordination. With practice, you can improve your balance and coordination through cycling, which is good if this is a goal of yours.
The Health Benefits Of Cycling Regularly
Okay, so what about cycling on a regular basis? We’ve already talked about the benefits of cycling in general, but not so much about the benefits of cycling on a daily basis. There are some obvious, non health related benefits – cycling is a great way to commute in a way that’s good for the planet, saves you money and gives you exercise. Of course, you’re here to learn more about the health benefits of cycling regularly, so let’s get into them!
Increased Cardiovascular Fitness
You’re unlikely to find any immediate changes to your cardiovascular system after just one bike ride. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true – to make improvements in anything, you need to make a consistent effort. The same goes for your fitness.
When you first begin cycling, you may notice that it’s a little difficult. You’re feeling breathless pretty early on, and you may feel your heart pounding in your chest from all of the physical exertion. With time, however, it will get a lot easier. After a while, breathing while riding will be simple and you’ll be able to do it for a longer duration of time without getting tired. Your body will be more efficient at dealing with the effects of the exercise, improving your cardiovascular fitness in the long run. This can also reduce your risk of getting cardiovascular diseases, as we have mentioned earlier in this article.
Other things that you may notice after a while is that your resting pulse rate reduces on your fitness watch. Your blood pressure will become lower, and so much more. If your cardiovascular system is healthy, then you are more likely to have a long and healthy life.
Improved Joint Mobility
Cycling is also fantastic for improving the mobility in your joints. Cardio in general is pretty good for the mobility in your joints, but it’s always important to be careful with high impact activities. Since cycling is a low impact activity, you don’t need to worry about this.
There are a number of things that cycling can impact in your body. For starters, it’s good for your coordination and your posture. It can make your legs stronger, and it’s even good for things like arthritis. Staying active is key to minimizing symptoms of arthritis, making cycling a great activity to keep it in check. Cycling is good for the mobility and strength of your hips, too.
What’s especially great is that there’s a bike for everyone these days, so you don’t need to avoid going cycling because you have certain health conditions – unless specifically advised by your medical practitioner. There are comfort bikes, foot-hand cycles, trikes and so much more. Ultimately, cycling helps to keep your joints moving, meaning that more synovial fluid is made in the joints, allowing them to move much more easily.
Decreases Stress Levels
If you’re looking for a good way to decrease your stress levels, then it’s a good idea to take up cycling as a form of exercise. There’s nothing like some exercise and fresh air to help all of your troubles melt away. In fact, there are also a lot of doctors that will specifically tell their patients to exercise as part of their stress treatment plan. It’s certainly a cost effective way of managing your difficult feelings and stressors.
When you are stressed, your body produces a hormone known as cortisol – it’s often dubbed the ‘stress hormone’ by many people. If you do some exercise and practice other ways of reducing your stress, you can also lower the levels of cortisol in your body.
In addition to this, when you’re cycling it’s important to keep your breathing under control. You will need to practice deep breathing too. In mindfulness meditation, deep breathing is often employed to help practitioners regain a sense of control and to feel more calm. Cycling can have the same effect thanks to the deeper breathing required to adequately do the activity.
Safety & Cycling
Now that you know about all of the health benefits of cycling, we bet that you are just itching to hop on your bicycle and go for a spin, right? Wait – not too hasty! Cycling is good for your health, but cycling in an unsafe manner certainly isn’t. That’s why it’s important to know how to stay safe when you’re out on your bike.
People Avoid Taking Up Cycling Because Of Safety Concerns
In fact, one of the main reasons that people choose not to start cycling is because they are worried about safety. People tend to be especially worried about cycling on the roads. Cycling can be dangerous, it’s true, but only if the cyclist isn’t alert or following cycling safety precautions. Otherwise, it’s totally safe. There’s always the risk of becoming injured, as is the case with any form of physical activity, but you can minimize the impact and the risks by following the safety precautions listed below.
Different Ways To Make Cycling A Less Stressful Experience, Especially If You’re Thinking About Starting
Cycling doesn’t have to be something that causes you stress. In fact, you can make yourself feel a lot more safe by following safety guidelines. Here are a few ways that you can feel a little more safe when out on your bicycle.
Wear a HelmetThis is rule number one of safe cycling – make sure that you wear a helmet. There is always a risk of becoming injured when you are cycling, but you can certainly reduce the chances of serious injury by wearing the proper safety gear. Wearing a bicycle helmet can help you to minimize the chances of getting a serious head injury when you are cycling. Just make sure that you get a helmet that is the correct size for your head so you are properly protected.
Always Be VisibleThis one is especially important if you are going to be riding on roads or during the night. In the night time, wear fluorescent clothing to ensure that motorists can see you as they are coming towards you. You should also do this if it’s cloudy or early in the morning.
Install Some MirrorsIt’s always important to be aware of what’s going on around you when you are cycling. As such, you should install some rearview mirrors somewhere either on the bike or on your helmet. This way, you can see what’s going on behind you so that you and other people don’t end up getting hurt.
Stay AlertAlways be aware of what’s going on around you. Unfortunately, that means taking out your headphones when you are riding. Make sure that you can see and hear what is going on around you in order to keep safe out on your bike. You can always listen to your favorite tunes when you get home and there aren’t any risks around you.
Take Someone With YouIf you’re new to cycling, you may feel a little anxious about riding on your own. This is a pretty common feeling, so don’t worry! It may help to take a buddy with you when you are cycling to help you to feel more safe. In addition to this, you will increase your visibility and you will have someone to look out for you just in case something does happen while you are out.
Cycling can be a lot of fun! As you can see from our article, there are so many health benefits to cycling, both for your physical and mental health. In short, there are so many different reasons why it’s a good idea to get started with this activity as soon as you can!