To be healthy, fit and in good shape (mental and physical), you need to be physically active. Bicycling is not only a popular, enjoyable activity, it’s also a full-body workout. The payoff is strong, lean body and a clear mind. Riding your bicycle regularly is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
Cycling is a healthy, fun, cheap, good for the environment and low-impact exercise that is enjoyed by people of all ages. You can combine cycling with your regular everyday routine, riding to work or the shops – so use it for recreation, transport and sport!
Cycling for health and fitness:
• It causes less strain and injuries than most other forms of exercise – it’s low impact. It is a full-body workout, utilizing nearly all of the major muscle groups in the body – primarily relies on the muscles in lower body, upper body also gets a workout. Cycling torches calories, tones your legs, is easier on your joints than running and can help strengthen your ticker.
• It is a great exercise for building your abs and strengthening your core which improves your balance and coordination in turn. The primary muscles in your lower body used during cycling are quadriceps at the front of your thighs and the hamstrings at back. To maximize the muscle-building benefits of cycling for your abs and core, remember to engage your core while cycling, by tucking in your lower rectus abdominis muscles. In particular, biking works the deltoid muscles in your shoulders, as well as the biceps and triceps in your upper arms. The biceps sit at front and the triceps at back, and both muscle groups get worked as you grip onto the handles of the bicycle, even more so when you’re learning forward while you’re riding.
• Cycling is 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.
• Cycling is a good way to build stamina – it is very effective in doing so.
• Cycling is a fun way to get fit compared to other physical activities that keep you indoors or require special times or places. Also it can be done at very low intensity to begin with – as intense as you want.
Health benefits of regular cycling
You can easy improve your overall fitness level because cycling will help you to breathe deeper, perspire and experience increased body temperature. Your heart, lungs and blood vessels all get a workout which means that cycling is mainly an aerobic activity.
Here are some health benefits of regular cycling include:
• Increased muscle flexibility and strength,
• Improved joint mobility,
• Increase cardiovascular fitness,
• Decreased stress levels,
• Decreased body fat levels,
• Strengthened bones,
• Improves coordination and posture,
• Management or prevention of disease,
• Reduced depression and anxiety.
Cycling and specific health issues
Cycling can reduce the chances of experiencing many health problems and also can improve both physical and mental health:
• Obesity and weight control – cycling raises your metabolic rate, builds muscle and burns body fat, so it is a good way to control or reduce weight. If you combine with a healthy eating plan – you will get great results! Steady cycling burns about 1200 kilojoules (about 300 calories) per hour. Half-hour bike ride every day will burn nearly 5 kilograms of fat over a year. Cycling also boost your metabolic rate long after you are finished your ride.
• Cardiovascular disease and cycling – some studies have shown that cycling to work will increase cardiovascular fitness by 3-7%. Cardiovascular diseases include stroke, heart attack and high blood pressure. Regular cycling stimulates and improves your lungs and circulation, your heart, reducing your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Cycling uses the largest muscle groups the legs, raising heart rate to benefit stamina and fitness. A Danish study conducted over 14 years with 30000 people aged 20 to 93 years, found that regular cycling protects people from heart disease. A major study of 10000 civil servants suggested that those who cycled 20 miles over the period of a week were half as likely to suffer heart disease as their non-cycling colleagues.
• Mental illness and cycling – cycling outdoors is a good way to be one with nature and to feel the breath of the earth. Mental health conditions such as anxiety, stress and depression can be reduced by regular bike riding. Any regular exercise can reduce stress and depression and improve wellbeing and self esteem.
• Diabetes and cycling – lack of physical activity is thought to be major reason why people develop type 2 diabetes. Large-scale research in Finland found that people who cycled for more than 30 minutes per day had a 40 per cent lower risk of developing diabetes.
• Bone injuries, arthritis and cycling – cycling may also help to prevent falls and fractures. It is an ideal form of exercise if you have osteoarthritis, because it is a low-impact exercise that places little stress on joints. Cycling is an activity that involves the whole body – arm-to-leg, feet-to-hands and body-to-eye coordination are improves, that way cycling improves coordination.
What you should remember from all of these:
Cycling is easy to fit into your daily routine by riding to the work, park, school or shops;
Riding a bike is healthy, low-impact form of exercise for all ages and is also fun;
Cycling can help to protect you from serious diseases such as depression, stress, anxiety, diabetes, obesity, stroke, heart attack and arthritis.