A healthy lifestyle is becoming popular increasingly; more and more people are concerned about environmental issues; cycling infrastructure is developing rapidly all over the world; and the cost of commuting is constantly rising. With all of this, we’re probably going to see a cycling renaissance in the near future. But while people ride bikes to work and grocery stores, or simply to have a good time with their family or friends, they probably do not consider how many health benefits they receive while spinning the pedals.
There is a cycling activity for everyone
Cycling has it all, whether you prefer fast rides on a flat course, off-road rides that give you a rush of adrenaline, or you just want a relaxing country trip. Therefore, you can easily choose the cycling activity you enjoy the most.
Road cycling: Road cycling involves riding a bike on paved roads. This type of cycling is great for building endurance, improving fitness, and exploring different areas. Road bikes are typically lightweight and designed for speed, making them suitable for this type of riding.
Cyclocross: Cyclocross involves racing a bike on a course that includes a mix of terrain, including paved roads, grass, mud, and obstacles that require the rider to dismount and carry the bike. Cyclocross bikes are typically similar to road bikes but with some features of mountain bikes, such as wider tires and more clearance for mud.
Mountain biking: Mountain biking involves riding a bike on rough, off-road terrain such as trails, dirt paths, and single tracks. This type of cycling is great for improving balance, strength, and technical skills. Mountain bikes are typically more rugged and durable than road bikes, with features such as suspension systems and wider tires to help navigate rough terrain.
Stationary cycling is another excellent option for improving your health. A stationary bike can be just as good for you as a regular bike. The only downside is that you will not be able to see constantly changing landscapes while you’re training. A stationary bike will ensure that you do not miss your spin class, regardless of the weather. Also, taking a spin class on a stationary bike in the gym is a great option if you do not have your own bike yet.
Seven benefits of cycling for your health
Cycling is probably one of the most practical ways to maintain great physical shape, stay active, and hit daily workouts. You can use it in dozens of different ways to have a great workout and reap tons of benefits for your health you just need to pick the way that appeals to you the most.
1Lowers the risk of heart disease
Like other forms of aerobic exercise, cycling is beneficial for the heart. Aerobic exercises like cycling may increase heart rate and blood circulation. Regular cycling will strengthen your heart muscles and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Particularly in 2019, the British Journal of Sports Medicine published a meta-analysis that shows that cycling is an efficient way to lower the odds of cardiovascular disease and may be recommended as a health-enhancing physical activity.
Another study from the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests that middle-aged men and women should consider using bicycles for commuting as a key preventative measure from clinical cardiovascular risk factors.
2Promotes fat loss
Cycling is undoubtedly an activity that you should include in your weight-loss plan if you are about to take it up. Cycling can be a fun and enjoyable way to lose some extra pounds. Both low- and high-intensity rides will help you burn a lot of calories. You can keep your bike rides steady and easy to burn those calories in a pleasing way. But if you are not afraid to drop sweat, spinning will make you lose fat in no time.
3Improves mental health
Like all other exercises, cycling can reduce stress, improve mood, and increase feelings of happiness and well-being. This physical activity releases endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural mood elevators. Also, cycling may act as a distraction from the daily mental buzz, clear the mind, and provide a sense of relaxation, making it an effective form of stress relief.
Research published in 2019, showed that adults who rode a bike at least three times a week, showed considerable improvements in their mental health, cognitive performance, and a general feeling of health and well-being.
4Helps to fight cognitive decline
Cycling appears to have the ability to keep the body and mind in good shape even as we grow older. A recent study found that older adults who participated in recreational cycling had no age-related change in information processing speed, with values superior to those typically reported in this age range. The general population, on the other hand, experienced a drop in information processing speed of about 5–10% per decade.
5Reduces the risk of diabetes
Many studies have shown that cycling as a recreational activity and mode of commuting is a good option for preventing medical conditions.
The study published in PLOS Medicine investigated the association between recreational and commuter cycling and the risk of type 2 diabetes. What this study showed is that everyday cycling, such as business trips or leisure rides with family or friends, consistently reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes, and even a late-in-life initiation of cycling lowered these odds.
6Strengthens your bones and muscles
Cycling is an effective way to improve bone density and muscle strength in your lower body. When you pedal a bike, you are using the muscles in your legs to push the pedals and propel the bike forward. This repetitive motion can help strengthen all muscle groups in your legs, so you can get strong legs without putting too much pressure on your joints from vigorous leg exercises in the gym.
Additionally, some types of biking, such as mountain biking, might impact in bone strengthening. Furthermore, riding on rougher terrain demands rapid direction changes to avoid obstacles. It calls for the use of upper-body muscles and gives the abdominal muscles a significant challenge, which enhances core stability. With more core stability and strength, you will be more effective at other physical activities because they frequently demand the use of core muscles.
7Provides an easy way to socialize
There is a good chance that if you invite a friend who has never exercised before to the gym or for a morning run, they are going to turn you down. But cycling is a different story. Many people find cycling to be fun and enjoyable because it allows them to explore new places and enjoy the outdoors.
As a low-impact activity that requires only a small effort to achieve great results, cycling is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. This makes cycling very popular around the world, even among people who are not very interested in a healthy lifestyle. So, you can easily find a companion for your bike rides.
Possible disadvantages of cycling
Despite being primarily considered a low-impact activity, cycling can still have negative health consequences if it is abused.
It is hard to get harmed by spinning pedals. But if you’re riding outside, there are numerous things that may lead to an injury. Cyclists can collide with other objects, vehicles, or even pedestrians. Also, it is easy to fall off the bike due to a variety of external factors, such as losing control of the bike when riding on rough or uneven terrain, or experiencing a mechanical failure. All of these can result in cuts, bruises, fractures, or head injuries.
To avoid injuries, you should get yourself proper protection. The cycling helmet is likely the most essential item you must wear when riding a bike. Today, it is not so hard to choose the right helmet as modern helmets are all in compliance with the most recent safety regulations. Simply make sure the helmet fits you properly: it should not be too tight or too loose.
For those who want to start mountain biking, protection is crucial. For cross-country rides, think about wearing knee protectors, a good pair of gloves, and elbow protection.
Additionally, back protectors would not be superfluous if you were planning on participating in some downhill courses. If you ride a road bike, you should also think about investing in some sunglasses and sunscreen because prolonged sun exposure can be damaging to your skin.
Long bike rides can lead to nerve and artery compression, or so-called neuropathy of bicycle seats. This problem is more likely to occur in individuals who spend a lot of time cycling, especially on seats that are poorly designed or not adjusted properly. Nerve compression can occur when the nerves that run through the body are subjected to excessive pressure or strain. This pressure can be caused by the cyclist’s weight supported on a narrow seat. This can cause numbness, tingling, or other sensations in the affected area.
To overcome this disadvantage, you must adjust a bike so that it properly fits you. Seat height and reach are two essential factors to get the ideal fit. The seat should be at a height that allows you to comfortably reach the pedals with a slight bend in your knee when the pedal is at the bottom of its stroke. The distance between the saddle and handlebars should be comfortable for your body. You should be able to reach the handlebars without straining or stretching.
Tips for beginners
If you’re just starting out on your cycling journey, there are a lot of new things that you are going to face. Our health enthusiast and cycling expert Michael Freeman shared some beginner-friendly tips so that you can easily immerse yourself in the cycling world and feel confident in a saddle.
‘In the first two weeks when I came to live in London, I bought a bicycle and this is my favourite way to commute across London and all over the UK. What can I advise to people who want to begin:
First step – the bicycle. Don’t start with an expensive one. The £300-600 price range will be a good starter option. Don’t buy too cheap and unreliable second-hand bicycles. It can be unsafe and has a high chance of a bad first cycling experience.
Second step – helmet and lights. This is about your safety. The rules are the same: not too expensive but a reliable option. It will cost about £60 in total.
Third step – lock for your bike. After 6 years in London, right now I’m cycling on my seventh bike. Six of them were stolen in different ways, places and various circumstances. Regarding the lock, I would recommend using the strongest but most reasonable option. Insurance is a good thing but optional while a lock is required.
Fourth step – start with short distances. Up to 5 km or 3 miles. The best way to start feeling confident is to cycle in the park where allowed or on quiet streets. This bike trip will take up to 30 minutes. The main purpose is to feel confident on the bike and minor troubles along the road. Runners, children, and other cyclists 🙂
Fifth step – go on the road. Choose the route you already know as a car driver or pedestrian and where there is a cycle lane. This could be a challenge but in the UK, drivers are much more afraid of you than you are of them. Just be predictable on the road, and avoid quick pivots or unexpected moves. And everything will be OK. You will start hating drivers and their cars a little. It’s a normal human reaction. You are ready.
Sixth step – enjoy your regular rides and start thinking about upgrading your bicycle. You will have more thoughts about a new bike as you cycle more regularly.’
Fun & curious facts about cycling
The first bike race was held in 1868 in Paris, France, and was won by an Englishman named James Moore. First race in the World in France but the Englishman was the winner 🙂 We will remember it forever.
The fastest speed ever recorded on a bike was 167.044 mph (268.831 km/h), achieved by Dutch cyclist Fred Rompelberg in 1995.
During an auction, Damien Hirst’s ‘Butterfly Trek Madone’ sold for $500,000, becoming the most expensive bicycle ever. Real butterfly wings were attached to the bicycle’s frame and wheels as part of the design. Lance Armstrong rode this bicycle during the 2009 Tour de France.
Let’s sum cycling up
Cycling is a fantastic activity brimming with a long list of advantages, such as lowering the risk of heart disease, helping you lose weight, making you feel better mentally, and strengthening your bones and muscles. It is a practical and affordable way to get around, and a chance to interact with others who share your passion for cycling.
Not enough? Here is more from our colleagues
Here are even more benefits of cycling for you, from the YourHealthTV YouTube channel. YourHealthTV provides science-based tips for those looking for improving their health, lose weight, and find home remedies for the most widespread health conditions.
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