Cycling is an increasingly popular sport and leisure activity that offers a wide variety of benefits. Everything from your fitness and mental wellbeing, to your bank balance and the environment stand to gain. If you’re in need of some convincing, here are the top reasons why you should embrace pedal power.
The health benefits of exercise
Like any form of exercise, cycling is associated with a myriad of benefits that will greatly enhance your health and fitness. Hopping on a bike can help you lose weight and maintain a healthy body fat ratio. A cyclist can expect to burn almost 500 calories from an hour’s riding. And the metabolism-boosting effects mean the benefits linger long after your workout.
Cycling exposes you to plenty of natural light which helps regulate the circadian rhythm and will improve the quality of your sleep. It’s also a great stress reliever, lowering cortisol levels in the blood, promoting feel-good hormones, and helping boost mental agility. There is also evidence that cycling can help lower the risk of heart disease, type two diabetes, obesity, brain disease, and even cancer. It does this largely through dampening the body’s inflammatory response which is the root cause of most chronic illness.
Peddle your way to great health
In addition to the above, there are also many important health and fitness benefits that are particular to cycling. Contrary to received wisdom, getting on a bike actually provides an intense, full-body work out. It’s not just the legs that benefit, but also the buttocks, hips and the upper body. Mountain biking, in particular, with the hills and rough terrain, will really work your arms, chest, and abs, as well as improve your balance, coordination and joint mobility. Cycling builds fitness in a truly holistic way, helping to tone and strengthen all areas of the body.
What’s more, cycling offers all this as a low-impact sport. It works your respiratory system and muscles while being relatively easy on the skeleton. Activities like running carry the risk of wear and tear around the ankles and knees as your feet repeatedly pound against hard ground. As a low-impact form of exercise that carries little risk of strain, cycling is a great option for a whole spectrum of people. The older population, those with health difficulties, athletes recovering from injury, as well as those looking for a gentle introduction to exercise can all participate with ease.
Cycling is accessible to all
Everyone from toddlers to pensioners can hop on a bike and start reaping the benefits instantly. Cycling is an activity that’s easily tailored to your specific ability level. You can pick and choose suitable routes and terrain, and fine tune your pace and exertion. The weight you’re carrying, the gearing, your speed, and wind resistance can all be adjusted to help meet your fitness goals.
Once you’ve got a bike, helmet and pump, there’s nothing more you need. Cycling can be done at any time, almost anywhere and doesn’t require much skill or the ability to commit to training schedules and team practices. It’s easily incorporated into most daily routines and doesn’t require a visit to the gym.
Perhaps best of all, once you’ve learned to ride a bike as a child, it’s a skill that you’ll never lose. Unlike most sports, it’s easy to pick up again after years of neglect. It’s also a form of exercise you’ll be guaranteed to enjoy in the later decades of life, as activities like running and weight lifting start to take their toll.
Cycling is fun and full of variation
Cycling can be performed competitively, whether racing against others or against yourself through a timed ride. But it can also be an incredibly relaxed and sociable activity. Cycling with your partner through a park or mountain biking with a group friends is a great way to blow off steam with others. We all know that cycling is a lot of fun. Exploring an urban area by bike, or whizzing through country lanes provides a great sense of freedom, control and exhilaration. It’s the perfect form of exercise to awaken the senses, jolt the mind and rejuvenate the spirit.
Cycling takes you places
Most sports don’t serve a purpose beyond the enjoyment and health benefits derived from the activity itself. Cycling, however, provides both these things whilst also serving as a convenient, cost-free and environmentally-friendly means of transportation. Whether you’re commuting to work, riding around your home town or perhaps even cycling across continents, there’s no better way to experience and immerse yourself in the outside world.
Cycling operates at an optimal speed. The potential range is high enough that you can move between places relatively efficiently, whilst experiencing enough new and diverse settings to keep things interesting. And yet, unlike in a car or bus, you’re going slow enough that you can observe and take pleasure in the scenery and people as you pass by, and ultimately feel a part of your surroundings.
Cycling is environmentally-friendly and cost effective
There’s no denying that bikes are a lot better for the environment than motorized forms of transport. They mean less pollution, less ugliness, and they simply take up a lot less space. Taking to two wheels is an excellent way to help reduce the environmental burden, in terms of pollution, noise, aesthetics and production costs. In cities, cycling is also often a faster and more convenient option than driving, saving you stress, traffic-jams and parking difficulties.
Finally, riding a bike is a great way to save money. It can eliminate the costs of commuting. From a longer-term perspective, it’s health-boosting properties could well help you save on medical bills later in life. And there’s even the possibility of using pedal power to generate free electricity. Try building your own bicycle generator to power your appliances. There’s simply no better way to get yourself fit than by powering your TV or video games console through cycling!