Cycling: A Trend That’s Here to Stay
The recent surge in cycling’s popularity during lockdown brought a 200% increase in weekend riders and a 100% increase on weekdays. Even celebrities like Michelle Keegan have embraced this trend, showcasing how cycling has taken the world by storm. Whether you’re cycling through picturesque countryside, pedaling on your Peloton at home, or hitting the exercise bike at your local gym, cycling offers a wealth of benefits that are worth exploring.
What Cycling Does to Your Body
Cycling is a comprehensive workout that offers a wide range of advantages. It enhances cardiovascular fitness, strengthens muscles, improves joint mobility, enhances posture, sharpens coordination, and fortifies bone strength. Additionally, it efficiently targets and tones areas such as the ankles, arms, shoulders, calves, thighs, and glutes. The best part is that it’s a low-impact exercise, making it gentle on your joints compared to high-impact activities like running. So, it’s not just about the destination; it’s also about the incredible journey that cycling takes your body on.
Cycling for Weight Management
If you’re looking to shed belly fat and work on your overall physique, cycling can be a powerful ally. Engaging in moderate-intensity cycling for 20–30 miles three times a week can help trim stubborn belly fat, making it an excellent choice for those aiming to achieve their fitness goals. Moreover, it perfectly aligns with the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, which can be conveniently broken down into 30-45 minutes of cycling each day. This makes it an accessible and manageable addition to your routine, delivering numerous health benefits along the way.
Thirteen Compelling Reasons to Embrace Cycling
- Low-Impact Cardio: Cycling’s low-impact nature is kind to your joints, making it a perfect choice for those who seek a balanced cardiovascular workout without subjecting their bodies to the high stress of other cardio activities.
- Exploration and Sightseeing: Cycling allows you to embrace a sense of freedom and adventure as you explore both urban landscapes and scenic countryside. It’s a unique way to see the world around you and cover more ground than you could on foot alone.
- Mood-Boosting and Stress Relief: Beyond the physical benefits, cycling has a remarkable impact on mental well-being. It has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety by promoting a meditative state of mind. Riding a bicycle encourages you to concentrate on your cadence, which effectively distracts from external thoughts and daily stressors.
- Social Connection: Joining cycling clubs provides valuable social opportunities. Whether you’re a speed enthusiast or prefer casual rides with great conversations, there’s a cycling club for you. Most rides even include delightful coffee stops that often come with a slice of cake, emphasizing the importance of balance in a healthy and happy lifestyle.
- Weight Loss Support: Cycling helps in reducing body fat and building muscle, which is essential for healthy weight management. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn at rest. Combining cycling with sprint and weightlifting exercises can further enhance your weight loss efforts by increasing your metabolism and promoting muscle growth.
- Adaptability: Cycling is truly inclusive. It appeals to both beginners and advanced exercisers. It’s a bit like the old saying, “it’s like riding a bike”; once you’ve done it before, you’ll find it easy to resume. You can adapt your cycling workout to match your fitness level, whether you prefer low-intensity rides as a beginner or challenging sprints and incline intervals for a more advanced workout. It offers a flexible approach to your fitness journey.
- Eco-Friendly Transportation: Embracing cycling as a mode of transportation is an environmentally friendly choice. Recent research has found that commuting by bike instead of using a car on a daily basis can reduce your carbon footprint by a significant 67%. Furthermore, the energy and materials needed to manufacture a bike are just a fraction of what’s required for a car, making it a clear winner in the sustainability department.
- Muscle Building: Cycling effectively targets key muscle groups, including quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. To maximize the benefits, remember to push and pull down on each pedal with equal effort. This activates your quads and hamstrings, promoting balanced muscle development. For outdoor cycling, you can adjust the gear to increase resistance, and indoor exercise bikes offer resistance settings to achieve a similar effect. Incorporating resistance training alongside your cycling routine can further enhance your muscle mass and overall strength.
- Time and Money Saver: Choosing cycling as your primary mode of transportation offers practical benefits. It can save you money on public transport and fuel expenses. Furthermore, it can significantly reduce the time spent sitting in traffic or waiting at bus stops, train stations, or parking lots. In essence, it’s an efficient and cost-effective way to get around and make the most of your time.
- Cycling for Longevity: A study published in the journal Sports Medicine shed light on the long-term benefits of cycling. Habitual cyclists tend to live longer and enjoy healthier lives. In fact, the study reviewed 17 previous studies, including a total of 478,847 participants, and found that individuals who embrace cycling as a way of life, rather than a quick-fix fitness solution, had a 23% higher chance of avoiding premature death. This underscores the idea that cycling is not just a sport or exercise; it’s a lifestyle choice that contributes to overall well-being.
- Immunity Boost: Research has shown that individuals who cycle for 30 minutes, five days a week, tend to take fewer sick days compared to those who don’t engage in regular exercise. Moreover, cyclists exhibit immune systems that resemble those of younger individuals, showing increased T-cell activity for their age group. This highlights how cycling can promote overall health and resistance to illness.
- Heart Health: Cycling regularly can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease. Recent studies indicate that engaging in just 20 miles of cycling each week can reduce this risk by half compared to those who don’t engage in regular exercise. Cycling is a fantastic way to stimulate your heart, lungs, and circulation, promoting cardiovascular health and longevity.
- A Legal High: Cycling has a remarkable impact on your mental state, creating a sense of euphoria that can last for approximately 30 minutes after a ride. This “legal high” is attributed to the release of endocannabinoids in the body, which induce a feeling of bliss and well-being. It’s a unique aspect of cycling that adds an extra layer of joy to the activity.
With all these compelling reasons, it’s clear that cycling is not just a mode of transport or exercise; it’s a holistic lifestyle choice that offers a plethora of physical, mental, and environmental benefits.