To be fit and healthy, your body requires a regular amount of physical activity, which can also prevent serious diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Cycling is a healthy form of low impact exercise that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, and is good fun, while being eco-friendly. The benefits of regular bike riding are many, which is why so many people choose to set off on two wheels, and enjoy the experience. So, if you are looking for the ideal way to get fit and maintain good health, try cycling as a hobby, and you’ll be glad you did.
Ride to work
If you don’t have a long commute, consider riding your bicycle to work on a daily basis, as this is one of the healthiest alternatives to the car or bus. Cycling has become extremely popular, especially with those that work in an office environment, as it is a way of combining everyday activities with a fitness program. An estimated one billion people ride bicycles on a daily basis, for either transport, recreation, or sport.
Biking for health
If you ride between two and four hours per day, you will notice a general improvement in your health. Cycling is,
- Low impact – Causing less strains and injuries than most sports.
- Easy to do – Unlike some sports that require a certain level of skill.
- Good for strength and stamina – Cycling increases stamina and fitness levels.
- A good muscle workout – Pedaling involves all the major muscle groups.
- A fun way to keep fit – The freedom of choosing your route means it is enjoyable.
- Flexible levels of intensity – Cycling allows the rider to choose how much of a workout they want, starting slowly, and building gradually to a strenuous workout.
The health benefits of cycling
Bike riding is an aerobic activity, which means your heart, lungs, and blood vessels get a good workout. While on your bike, your breathing will increase, and the increased physical activity is good for your body, as it works many small and large muscle groups.
The many health benefits include,
- Increased muscle strength and flexibility.
- Improved posture and coordination.
- Strengthened bones.
- Increased cardiovascular fitness.
- Decreased body fat levels.
- Reduced anxiety and depression.
Obesity and weight management
Cycling is an effective way to lose or control weight, as it raises your metabolic rate, which in turn burns energy, and builds muscle. Your body will draw on its energy reserves in the form of body fat. If you want to lose weight, your cycling should be combined with a healthy diet. The intensity of the riding sessions should be gradually increased, allowing your body time to strengthen and improve fitness levels. According to research, you should burn about 2,000 calories per week on exercise, and cycling burns approximately 300 calories per hour.
Cycling stimulates the heart, lungs, and circulation, which is a good protection against heart disease. Research suggests that regular cycling can prevent cardiovascular problems from occurring.
Cycling and cancer
Regular cycling is known to prevent bowel and breast cancer, as research has shown there is a direct link between some forms of cancer and exercise.
Cycling and diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is on the rise and is becoming a serious health concern. One of the main reasons for contracting diabetes is inactivity, so cycling is an enjoyable way to keep that body active, and an active body can fight off any illness or disease more effectively.
You might be forgiven for thinking that a bike rider would pick up more pollution than someone inside a car might, yet studies suggest quite the opposite. Researchers at Imperial College, London, found that drivers and passengers in buses and taxis were exposed to more pollution that cyclists. It is said the reason for this is that cyclists are usually at the side of the road, whereas car drivers and passengers are more centrally located, where the more intense levels of pollution exist.
Healthy family outings
Bike riding provides an excellent opportunity for the family to get out and about, with special child saddles fitted to the parents’ bikes, allowing youngsters to safely experience the ride. If you plan to do this is an urban environment, make sure you have lights and reflective clothing, to make yourself visible to motorists.
A Healthier lifestyle for your children
Studies show that children are affected by their parents’ choice of exercise, so if your kids see you riding regularly, they are more likely to adopt cycling as a hobby. This will also give them the road sense to safely cycle, with you at their side to watch over them, at least until they become proficient riders.
Reach the peak of fitness
The great thing about cycling is you can control the intensity, and with a gradual build up, you can achieve a high level of fitness. If you plan your routes carefully, allowing for road conditions and interesting things to see, the ride will be so much more enjoyable. Some people enjoy it so much, they ride more than 150 km per day, and are very healthy for the experience. So, cycling leaves it up to you, with anything from a short ride around the park to winning the Tour De France, achievable.
The right gear
When out on a ride, it is important to wear the right clothing, a bike helmet is essential, along with cycling shorts and other accessories, which can all be found with a simple online search. Lights are important, and LED technology has given us many choices in how we maintain visibility while riding.
Biking is so popular now that there are many cycling clubs with members running into the hundreds, which means meeting many people. Cycling attracts all kinds, so you will encounter people with a wide range of interests, all with one thing in common, a love of cycling.