CYCLING & HEALTH

10 Amazing Benefits when You Choose to Cycle

  • Ninety One
    Team 91
  • 4-minute read
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We are all aware that one of the essential factors to healthy living is to be physically active. Yet, there are very few amongst us who make time for exercising. We often cite 'no time, 'the gym is boring', amongst other excuses. However, cycling is becoming a growing and popular activity, perfect for giving you your regular dose of required workout. There is no age bar restriction or fitness levels test before you embark on your pedalling journey. It's all up to you how you choose to cycle. You can have a relaxing and leisurely ride without breaking a sweat, or you can make it as intense as you want. Non-competitive cycling is about competing with yourself and no one else. Another feather in the cap of cycling is that the benefits are not limited to the physical body and play a part in improving your mental health.

If you still need more prodding to jump on the saddle, explore these great reasons, and we can bet it will kick-start you in beginning your cycling journey.

1) Burns Calories

Weight Loss and management is a considerable industry indicating that more people find it difficult to lose weight. Cycling burns about 400 calories per hour. More if you cycle hard and fast and less if you choose to leisure cycle on flat terrain. Even when you stop pedalling, your metabolism remains active for some time, and you continue to burn calories at a higher than the normal resting rate for some time.

2) Improves Heart Health, Reduces Diabetes and Cancer Risks

While you cycle, blood is pumped to your legs which helps regulate your blood pressure and strengthens your heart. Regular cyclists are known to have a lower resting heart rate than those who don't cycle, indicating that the heart can function without working so hard, which is a good sign of heart health. Cycling is known to reverse Type 2 diabetes in people and offers a reduced risk of colon and breast cancers.

3) Enhances Brain Power

Cycling increases blood flow to the brain, carrying more oxygen and nutrients, which improves its performance. And additionally, there is an increase in the production of proteins required for creating new brain cells. Another benefit to pedalling is the increase in activities that allow the different regions of our brain to communicate more effectively.

4) Generates Feel Good Endorphins

Cycling, an aerobic exercise, triggers the release of endorphins and other feel-good chemicals like dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. You are bound to experience happiness when you cycle.

5) Slows Down Aging

Cycling has been shown to counteract the natural decline of brain function and development as you age. An organ called the thymus, a lymphoid organ of the immune system that makes immune cells called T-cells shrink from the age of 20. But surprisingly, in a study, the thymuses of older cyclists were generating as many T-cells as those of young people.

6) Reduces Stress

When you regularly push on those pedals, you keep hormones like adrenaline and cortisol in check resulting in less stress. Additionally, you benefit from bouncing back from anxiety-filled situations more easily.

7) Improves balance, posture, and coordination

The cycling posture when pedalling to stay upright, you use your abs muscles and strengthen your core, improving your balance and coordination.

8) Builds Muscles

You exercise multiple different muscles when you cycle. In the power phase of pedalling, you use muscles in the buttocks, thighs and calves. In the recovery phase, you work your hamstrings and the muscles in the front of the hips. You use abdominal muscles to balance and stay upright, and you use your arm and shoulder muscles to hold the handlebars and steer. You strengthen the muscles around your trunk by snagging your core balancing the bike.

9) Strengthens Bones

Pushing pedals is a resistance activity that pulls on your muscles, and then your muscles pull on the bone, which helps increase bone density, giving you stronger bones.

10) Best low impact option in exercising

By choosing to pedal over other aerobic activities like running, you don't risk damage to your joints because cycling does not put weight on your legs. Cycling puts your weight on the ischial tuberosities, a pair of bones in the pelvis making it an activity that even people with joint pains or age-related stiffness can do with no risk or fear.

Now that you know about the numerous and amazing benefits of cycling, the next step is to figure out how to include it in your life. Starting any new habit takes time and persistence. You would do well, to begin with, with short rides regularly. If you live a few kilometres away from your job, try cycling there or maybe to the nearest train station if possible. Choose to cycle to do your neighbourhood shopping. Scientists suggest that 30-60 minutes sessions, three to five times each week, is enough to reap those benefits.

Additional benefits to cycling over motorized transportation is the loads of money you save in fuel charges.

Cycling is something you can do at pretty much any age. Even if you haven't ridden a bike since you were 10, you'll find that you didn't forget how. Plenty of people start cycling again in middle age or even later and realize that "you never forget how to ride a bike" really is true. Or, if you have never been on a bicycle, go through our step-by-step guide to get you cycling in a few easy steps.

What do you think of these benefits of cycling? Do you have any more such benefits that you'd like to share with us? If yes, we'd love to hear from you. Please do write in the comments section below.

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