Cycling is a low impact aerobic exercise that offers a wealth of benefits. It also varies in intensity, making it suitable for all levels. You can cycle as a mode of transport, for everyday activity, or as an intense, competitive endeavor.
Dr. Clare Safran-Norton, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital says that “it’s socially oriented, it is fun, and it gets you outside and exercising.” With this, the benefits of cycling are almost as endless as the country lanes you could soon be exploring. So, if you’re considering taking up cycling, and weighing it up against other potential activities, then I’m here to tell you that cycling is, hands down, the best option.
But if you’re looking for more reasons as to why you should choose cycling as you next pastime, here are a few benefits you should know!
- It improves mental well-being
A study by the YMCA showed that people who had a physically active lifestyle had a wellbeing score that was 32 percent higher than inactive individuals. The demands of cycling stimulate your body to release natural endorphins, which are the body’s way of feeling good and getting more energy. There’s also the natural release of adrenalin and the improved confidence that comes from achieving new things.
Cycling combines physical exercise with being outdoors and exploring new views. You can ride solo – giving more time to yourself to process worries or concerns, or you can ride with a group, that broadens your social circle.
- It cuts heart disease and cancer risk
Pushing pedals provides an aerobic workout for you, which is great for your heart, brain, and blood vessels. Regular exercise will improve your cardiovascular fitness, too. The British Medical Association studied 10,000 people and showed that riding a bicycle for at least 20 miles a week lessened the risk of coronary heart disease by almost 50 percent.
This activity can also keep you lean and fit, which may reduce your risk for certain types of cancer, including breast cancer. And if you already have breast cancer, cycling is a fantastic addition to your care plan. Why? According to research from 2019, staying active if you have breast cancer may help reduce the side effects of cancer treatments, including fatigue, and improve your overall quality of life.
- It lessens the stress on the joints and strengthens legs
Cycling is a low impact sport, meaning it puts less stress on your joints than other aerobic activities such as running. Furthermore, it is also considered a non-load bearing sport, which means that the act of sitting takes the pressure off of your joints and reduces the risk of injuring them. “That makes it good for anyone with joint pain or age-related stiffness,” says Dr. Safran-Norton.
This sport also improves overall function in your lower body and mainly strengthens your leg muscles without overstressing them. It targets your quads, glutes, hamstring, and calves. Pedaling builds the bone. Just like what Dr. Safran Norton said, “resistance activities, such as pushing pedals, pull on the muscles, and then the muscles pull on the bone, which increases bone density.”
- It improves balance, posture, and coordination
As you stabilize your body and keep your bike upright, you’ll improve your overall balance, coordination, and posture. Balance tends to decline with age and inactivity, so it’s vital to keep on top of it. The technical elements such as climbing, descending, and cornering will also be easier for you since you know how to use your body weight to get the bike to go where you want it to.
Improved balance is beneficial in the prevention of falls and fractures, which can leave you on the sidelines while you take time off from exercise to recover.
Joining in the cycling family and making this sport your new hobby has a lot of benefits stored for you. What are you waiting for? Get on your bikes and ride! This is the best way to improve your overall physical, mental, and emotional health.