Cycling is one of the best ways to develop and maintain excellent health and fitness. Plus, as the weather improves, excuses to put it off are running out. It's worth considering – could you cycle to work? Could you get somewhere nearby without relying on public transport? Regardless of your motives, there are tonnes of reasons to start cycling. One of the main benefits is staying fit. Just 30 minutes of easy cycling is enough to help maintain a basic state of good health, whilst higher levels of fitness and stamina can be achieved through cycling as part of a training programme or sport.
The Road to Health
Cycling is an accessible and fun way to achieve the recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise, five days a week. Doing this will protect you against a wide range of illnesses, whilst at the same time getting you from A to B. As well as improving your health, cycling regularly will also boost your fitness levels. It’s said that a person who cycles every day has the same level of fitness as someone 10 years younger.
- Top Tip: Even short, moderate cycle rides just four times a week for six weeks will boost your aerobic fitness by at least 11 per cent!
Cycling also offers multiple health benefits for your whole body and your mind:
- Weight loss: Cycling is especially good for those who are very overweight as it allows them to exercise without straining their joints. Just half an hour of cycling a day can burn off 10 kg (22 lb) of fat in a year!
- Immune system: Moderate exercise has been found to cause immune cells to circulate more quickly through the body, making you better able to neutralize bacteria and viruses.
- Cardiovascular system: Cycling is excellent exercise for the heart and circulation, helping the heart to become much more efficient. The process of burning up fat also has a positive impact on your cholesterol. Cycling will also cause your normal pulse rate to slow down, which, in turn, can help reduce blood pressure.
- Muscles: These need to be used regularly to keep them in optimum condition. In just one week of inactivity you can lose up to half of your muscle strength and flexibility. When cycling, you are not just using the leg muscles but those of the buttocks, abdomen, back, chest, neck and arms.
- The skeletal system: With the correct posture, cycling helps to strengthen the skeletal system and enhance skeletal mobility. Cycling can help to nourish the intervertebral discs, aiding their development, strengthening the muscles of the back and promoting the stability of the vertebrae.
- Diabetes: A 12-year study of 20,000 people in Finland found that those who cycled for more that 30 minutes a day reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 40 per cent.
- Cancers: Regular exercise has been shown to reduce the risks of cancer. Furthermore, research has shown that if you cycle, the risk of contracting bowel cancer could be reduced.
- Respiratory system: Moderate physical exercise like cycling benefits the lungs, increasing their ability to absorb oxygen. This in turn benefits cell metabolism for the release and use of energy throughout the body.
- Mental stress: Cycling is a relaxing form of exercise; it's as effortless as walking but comes with less strain on the joints.
- Depression: As cycling has a positive effect on how you feel, it can be very helpful in easing the misery of depression. Exercise releases endorphins (the body’s happy chemicals) and provides a wonderful means of de-stressing. So, after a hard day at work, cycling home can be an ideal way to unwind.
This article is based off text from our popular title Green Guides: Cycling (ISBN: 9780857750969). For much more expert advice on all your cycling needs have a look at the book on our website by clicking here. Alternatively, take a look on Amazon here.