Outdoor and indoor cycling is healthy for you and the planet. Cycling reduces emissions and delivers an intense full-body workout that keeps you young. Celebrities like Patrick Dempsey and Madonna epitomize cycling enthusiasm, from cycling through London streets to completing pro tours, such as the Giro D’Italia. Following is a list of the many ways cycling maximizes your health.
1. Pain Relief
Cycling relieves chronic physical and mental pain, enhances your circulation, and keeps your joints flexible. Healthy circulation and flexibility are direct antidotes to stiffness, swelling, fatigue and pain. Specialty bikes that are ergonomically designed and custom-fitted to your body make riding more comfortable, even if you struggle with chronic pain.
2. Great Muscle Tone
Cycling gets you ripped. Muscles respond to weight-bearing exercise, getting stronger and leaner the more you push them. Toned muscle enables you to cycle with more power and stability, to navigate off-terrain and negotiate hills with ease. It also increases your stamina so that you can cycle longer without fatigue. The power phase of pedaling (the downstroke) recruits your glutes, quads and calves, essentially your entire leg from top to bottom. Meanwhile, the recovery phase (back-, up- and over-stroke) targets your hams and flexors, or the backs of your legs.
3. Improved Mental Well-Being
Exercise is a general cure-all for a variety of mood disorders, including moderate depression. Cyclists tend to have a well-being score 32 percent higher than people who don’t cycle. Cycling causes your body to release adrenaline and endorphins, your body’s energizing, feel-good hormones. These hormones positively affect many physiological functions, ultimately boosting your sense of contentment. Endorphins dull your body’s receptivity to pain.
Cycling outdoors also exposes you to fresh air, sunlight and diverse scenery, which is an added treat. However, cycling indoors is equally beneficial. You can just pick an exercise bike stand and transform your mountain bike into a rad stationary bike for rainy day-indoor rides. The benefits are the same, minus the diverse scenery and sunlight.
4. Stronger Bones
Pedaling also builds your bones. Like a muscle, bones respond to load-bearing activities. Force exerted by tendons and muscles on your bones compels them to build new bone material. The jury’s still out on whether cycling prevents osteoporosis, with sections of the medical establishment saying either yes or no. Both sides present compelling arguments. In the end, since cycling can only be good for you, better to rely on it, diet and other healthy lifestyle choices to ensure long-term bone health.
5. Weight Management
Pudgy cyclists exist, but they’re rare. Most cyclists who commit themselves to their cycling practice slim down in no time at all. Nothing cycles through excess calories of fat quite like cycling. It is low-impact on your joints and tendons, yet delivers the kind of fat-burning, muscle-building results associated with heavy lifting or high-impact, vigorous-activity sports, such as soccer. A University of East Anglia study found that an hour of daily cycling can automatically trim you down by 15 pounds in 12 months.
6. Cardiovascular Health
According to Scandinavian research, cycling reduces your risk of obesity, developing hypertension, cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Additionally, cycling lowers your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), aka bad cholesterol.
Bad cholesterol turns to plaque and clogs your arteries. The study found that cycling specifically lowers your total triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are the predominant form of fat in your body, and they encompass LDL. High triglyceride levels typically imply high LDL, so reducing these numbers is good for your long-term heart health.
The study followed 24,000 Swedes, average age 43, over a 10-year period.
Cycling to work or as part of your routine exercise regimen can prolong your life, so says the findings of a study by the University of Glasgow. Researchers followed roughly 260,000 Brits, Scots, and Welshmen over a five-year period, tracking them by mode of transportation to work.
Those who cycled had the least frequency of illness and death from all causes, including cancer and cardiovascular disease, the two leading causes in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Ultimately, the studies did not suggest a preference for one sport over another, since the study showed participants who engaged in racquet sports and swimming also enjoyed reduced mortality rates. The study was exceptionally controlled, and researchers compared subjects with reduced mortality to subjects with exposure to an array of risk factors.
Final thoughts on Cycling to Maximize Your Health
Cycling is fun and challenging, and confers a shopping list of health advantages. It can eradicate chronic physical and mental pain, and is an effective low-impact means to shed unwanted pounds and keep them off. Cycling is also very convenient; it’s easy to do most any time, and you can do it outdoors or indoors, thanks to a sturdy exercise bike stand.
Written by Guest Blogger, Mike Jones.
Mike Jones is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about health and cycling. He goes mountain biking weekly. Mike can be found on Twitter @mike_jones35.