Cycling is a low impact aerobic exercise that offers a wealth of benefits. It also varies in intensity, making it suitable for all levels. You can cycle as a mode of transport, for casual activity, or as an intense, competitive endeavor.
Cycling is a wonderful workout that keeps you active. It can help shape a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally.
Continue reading to take a look at some of the ways cycling can enhance your fitness level and well-being.
1. Weight management
Cycling habitually, especially at a high intensity, helps lower body fat levels, which promotes healthy weight management. Plus, you’ll increase your metabolism and build muscle, which allows you to burn more calories, even while at rest.
2. Leg strength
Cycling improves overall function in your lower body and strengthens your leg muscles without overstressing them. It targets your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves.
To make your legs even stronger, try weightlifting exercises, such as squats, leg presses, and lunges, a few times per week to further enhance your cycling performance.
3. It’s good for beginners
It’s simple to ride a bike. If you have difficulty with a standard bicycle, stationary bikes are a great alternative.
If you’re new to fitness or are bouncing back from an injury or illness, you can cycle at a low intensity. As you get more fit, you can increase the intensity or continue to cycle at a chill pace.
4. Core workout
Cycling also works your core muscles, including your back and abdominals. Maintaining your body upright and keeping the bike in position requires a certain amount of core strength.
Strong abdominals and back muscles support your spine, increase stability, and improve comfort while cycling.
5. Boosts mental health
Cycling can ease feelings of stress, depression, or anxiety. Focusing on the road while you’re cycling helps develop concentration and awareness of the present moment. This may help take your focus away from the mental chatter of your day.
If you find yourself feeling lethargic or listless, get yourself on your bike for at least 10 minutes. Exercise releases endorphins, which in turn help you feel better while lowering stress levels.
You may feel more confident and content once you make cycling a regular part of your life.
6. It can help people with cancer
Cycling is a fantastic addition to your care plan if you have or are recovering from cancer. Cycling can also keep you lean and fit, which may reduce your risk for certain types of cancer, including breast cancer.
According to research from 2019, staying active if you have breast cancer may help reduce side effects of cancer treatment, including fatigue, and improve your overall quality of life.
7. A positive start to your morning
Start your day with a healthy activity like cycling, which wakes you up by boosting your circulation and allows you to start your day with a sense of accomplishment.
You may feel more inclined to make healthy, positive choices as the day progresses.
A 2019 study found that people who exercised before breakfast for 6 weeks improved their response to insulin, which helped them burn twice as much fat as those who exercised after breakfast.
8. Prevents and manages medical conditions
Whether you want to prevent health concerns from arising or manage existing conditions, regular exercise is key. Cycling regularly is one way to avoid a sedentary lifestyle and its accompanying health concerns.
It can help prevent cardiac issues such as stroke, heart attack, and high blood pressure. Cycling may also help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes (Trusted Source.)
9. It’s environmentally friendly
Reduce your carbon footprint by riding your bike whenever possible.
Cycling is a great replacement for transport options that involve sitting in traffic for extended periods. It’s especially useful when you’re going places that are a bit too far to walk, but you still don’t want to take a car.
A bonus is not having to fight for a parking space in crowded areas.
10. Improves balance, posture, and coordination
As you stabilize your body and keep your bike upright, you’ll improve your overall balance, coordination, and posture. Balance tends to decline with age and inactivity, so it’s vital to keep on top of it.
Improved balance is beneficial in the prevention of falls and fractures, which can leave you on the sidelines while you take time off from exercise to recover.
11. It’s a low impact option
Cycling is easy on your body, making it a gentle option for people who want an intense workout without stressing their joints. Cycling is a great option for people who have joint concerns or overall stiffness, especially in the lower body.
Drawbacks and safety
There are a few drawbacks to cycling to consider.
A serious disadvantage is the risk of an accident, whether in an urban or rural area. When possible, ride on lanes reserved for cyclists as well as neighboring streets.
Research from 2020 showed that cycle tracks, and streets within 550 meters of the tracks, had fewer collisions between cyclists and vehicles.
Always follow traffic laws. Use caution while going through intersections and busy areas, even if you have the right of way. Invest in a quality helmet and any other protective gear you may require.
Avoid any loose clothing that could get caught in your bike chains. Have bike lights as well as reflective gear for nighttime cycling.
If bike-commuting a long way to work, consider bringing a change of clothes to freshen up.
Inclement weather can also be a hindrance. On days when it’s not possible to cycle outside, you can ride a stationary bike or choose another activity. If cycling is your mode of transportation, invest in rain and cold weather gear.
For extended daytime rides, use sunscreen on all exposed skin. Reapply every 2 hours, especially if you’re sweating. Wear UV-protective sunglasses and a hat. Consider investing in UV-protective clothing.
Air pollution is another concern if you’re cycling in a city. You may choose to cycle on days when the air is cleaner, or ride on less congested roads.
Cycling every day
It’s possible to cycle every day, especially if you use your bicycle for transportation or ride at a low intensity.
Take a break if you experience pain, fatigue, or muscle soreness. If you’re cycling for fitness, you may want to give yourself at least 1 full day of rest each week.
This is especially important if you ride at a high intensity, or find your body getting sore in specific ways.
Who shouldn’t cycle
If you have any injuries that cycling will affect, it’s best to stay off the bike until you fully recover.
Talk to your doctor if you have any conditions that cycling may affect. People who have concerns with balance, vision, or hearing may prefer a stationary or adaptive bicycle.
If you don’t want to cycle but want to give your body a similar workout, opt for a rowing, stair climber, or elliptical machine. You can also run hills, swim, or walk.
The bottom line
Cycling is an enjoyable way to stay healthy and in touch with the world around you.
If the weather is in your favor, hop on your bike and go the distance. Cycling is a wonderful way to explore your local area. It beats the feeling of boredom that can come from repetitive workouts, too.
Just play it safe and use caution when necessary, especially on busy roads or during inclement weather.
Appreciate the satisfaction that comes from improving your fitness while having fun.