The Health Benefits Of Cycling

The Health Benefits Of Cycling

How Regular Bicycle-Riding Benefits Your Life

We all know regular exercise is good for our health, but do you now how cycling, specifically, improves your well-being? If you’re thinking about taking up an activity to boost your weekly exercise, you can’t go wrong with riding a bike.

9 Health Benefits of Cycling

1. Cycling Promotes Weight Loss

Plainly put, to lose weight you must burn more calories than you take in. To lose one pound, your body must burn approximately 3500 more calories than you’ve eaten. Depending on the intesnity of your bike ride, cycling burns between 400 and 1000 calories per hour.

Of course, there are other factors to be considered when it comes to weight loss. The make-up of the calories you consume, the frequency of refueling, the quality of your sleep, and the amount of time you spend exercising all contribute to weight loss.

Worth noting though is that the amount of time you spend burning calories will be influenced by how much you enjoy exercising. Most people find it hard to motivate themselves to exercise, but if you enjoy cycling it will be quite easy to get yourself moving. When you enjoy your fitness exercises, you will spend more time doing them; the more time you spend enjoying a beautiful bike ride, the more calories you will burn and the more weight you can lose.

2. Cycling Builds Muscle

Cycling is a sport of resistance. This means the activity doesn’t just burn fat, it builds muscle. Riding a bike focuses most on the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. Muscle is leaner than fat and people with a higher percentage of muscle burn more calories. This means that when you ride a bike regularly and build up your muscles, you’ll begin to burn even calories, even when you aren’t moving.

While cycling may not give you the legs of an Olympian, it will provide nice toning in the muscles of your legs and butt.

3. Cycling Promotes Better Lung Health

A study conducted by the Healthy Air Campaign, Kings College London, and Camden Council found that cyclists experience up to five times less pollution than a driver.

This seems contradictory, right? The study fitted air pollution detectors to the driver of a car, a bus user, a pedestrian, and a cyclist. The driver experienced the most air pollution, followed by the walker, then the bus user. Of the 4 people studied, the bicyclist experienced far less pollution than the others. So if you want to breathe the cleanest air possible, ride a bike; keep your lungs as healthy as possible.

4. Cycling Reduces The Risk Of Heart Disease and Cancer

Like many other physical activities, cycling raises your heart rate and gets your blood pumping. In addition, the exercise burns calories and limits your chances of becoming overweight. All of these factors make cycling a healthy way to cut your risk of developing heart disease and cancer.

A study conducted by the University of Glasgow found that those who cycle-commute to work were half as likely to develop heart disease or cancer. Read the entire study here.

5. Cycling Is A Low-Impact Activity

Sure, cycling can improve your physical fitness, but so can walking, jogging, and a slew of other physical activities. What makes cycling a better mode of exercise than others?

The answer: cycling is low impact.

Let me explain. Take an activity like running: when you run, all your weight is on your joints and, ultimately, your feet. Weight-bearing activities incur higher injury rates. Cycling, on the other hand, is not weight-bearing. This is because your weight is on the bicycle itself. 

When scientists compare long-distance runners to cyclists, they found that runners suffered almost 1.5 times as much muscle damage and 2.5 times more inflammation. This means that overall, cycling is easier on your body. It’s worth noting that the lack of weight-bearing in cycling also means that it does not increase your bone density as much, so incorporating strength training into your exercise regimen is a good idea to consider.

6. Cycling Helps You Sleep Better

It’s a no-brainer that tiring yourself out with exercise will help you sleep, but did you know that there is scientific evidence that cycling can help you sleep? Researchers at the University of Georgia conducted a 35-year study on men and women aged 20 to 85 and found that a drop in fitness by 2% in men and 4% in women resulted in problems sleeping.

Anxiety and weight gain can both contribute to sleep dysfunction, and it just so happens that cycling can reduce both of these issues. So get cycling, then get snoring.

7. Cycling Improves Handling and Spacial Awareness

Cycling isn’t just about building muscle and burning fat. Unless you’re on a stationary bike, you’ll encounter the technical elements of rising a bike as well. Climbing, descending, and turning all teach you how to use your body weight to move the bike in the direction you want to go.

Not only does mastering these skills give you a significant confidence boost, but they also improve your balance and reflexes.

Anyone who rides a bike regularly can tell you how cycling improves your spacial awareness. Knowing where cars, pedestrians, and other cyclists are in relation to you is paramount to their safety as well as yours.

8. Cycling Strengthens Your Immune System

Regular exercise has clear benefits for the health of the upper respiratory system. A healthier upper respiratory system is less likely to suffer from the common cold. According to a study undertaken at Appalachian State University, aerobic exercise several days a week can decrease sick days by 40%. Mild exercise increases the production of essential proteins in our bodies and invigorates our white blood cells.

Not only does a cycling commute render you multiple health benefits, but it also frees you from contact with other germ-riddled commuters on public transportation such as trains and buses.

9. Cycling Improves Mental Well-Being

In addition to the multitude of physical benefits cycling offers, it also provides positive mental attributes. A study conducted by the YMCA showed that people who live an active lifestyle have a wellbeing score 32% higher than those who are inactive. That is a staggering statistic: those who exercise are up to 50% happier than those who don’t.

Exercise releases adrenalin and endorphins in your body, both of which improve your mood. Cycling can also improve your confidence in your abilities when you achieve new goals as well as confidence in the fitter body regular exercise can provide. Cycling combines regular exercise with time in the outdoors, both of which contribute to better mental health. Riding alone can provide time to process concerns or life events while riding with others creates social bonds. Alone time and social bonding are both important aspects of a healthy mental state.

More Reasons To Ride

No matter what reason you ride, whether it’s physical fitness, personal confidence, mental health, or something else, the best part of cycling is you experience all these benefits at the same time.

Why do you ride?

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