Cycling and your health go hand in hand – not only is this a fun way of getting from A to B, but it can be one of the most effective ways to keep fit, improve your general health and lose those extra pounds.
So here we explain why its well worth getting the bike out of the shed and the many ways this will lead to a much healthier lifestyle.
What are the main health benefits of cycling?
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Heart – Cycling is a great aerobic work out and can be part of any fitness regime or program with recent studies showing that those who cycle regularly can significantly reduce risk of heart related diseases and improve blood circulation as a result.
Research also found that people who commute by bike to work several days per week can in some cases reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 50%.
Muscles – As we age, we lose muscle mass which can lead to all kinds of health issues such as loss of balance, weakness and fatigue. From the age of 30 medical experts suggest we can lose between 3% – 5% of our muscle mass every 10 years, even if we are relatively active. There is a common misconception that cycling only targets leg muscles which is incorrect, as core abdominal upper and lower body, shoulders and triceps muscles are also used to keep us balanced while riding.
Joints – Cycling is much easier on the joints than some other forms of exercise, this is because it is classed as a ‘Low impact excercise’, furthermore experts suggest it can also help if you suffer from joint pain or arthritis in your knees. This is because cycling tends to put less stress on weight bearing joints like the hips and knees compared to high impact excercises (like running for example) – the motion when peddling lubricates these joints over time. For the more senior rider, an electric bike may be worth considering to further reduce stress on joints but still enjoy all the other associated health benefits of cycling.
It is however, imperative that you find a bike that is the right fit in terms of frame size and riding position if you do suffer from any joint related problems – upright riding styles will put more pressure on your hips, while forward positions tend to work the knee joints more, so its well worth spending time trying out different options to find out which would be best for you. ( please also consult your doctor beforehand just to make sure)
Mental Well-Being – When we exercise, our body releases endorphins which have been found to help reduce the effects of anxiety, depression and stress levels. Let’s face it, cycling is fun and can be a great way to find enjoyment and better manage your overall mental well-being in the long and short- term.
Can cycling help you to lose weight?
Yes, cycling is a fantastic way of losing weight alongside a controlled diet plan as simple science suggests, you still need to be burning more calories than you are consuming!
High Impact interval training or ‘HIIT’ using a bike is deemed one of the quickest and most effective fat burning techniques out there by many leading fitness experts – HIIT is basically intermittent short bursts of intensive peddling in between longer, steady periods of peddling.
For example some use the 80/20 rule – take a 10-mile bike ride, the cyclist would cycle at a steady ‘brisk’ pace for 8 miles of the journey then push hard for the final 2 miles. This method of workout is said to burn 28% more fat than if you cycled the same 10 miles at the same pace.
Another method would be to do multiple ‘high intensive’ intervals for several minutes at a time during a ride which claims to produce similar results.
If the above sounds a bit too much then just regular cycling will still help you to lose weight as it is a great form of exercise, even for the ‘leisure rider’.
Can you get fit using an electric bike?
This question comes up a lot! Electric bikes have opened the door to many more people who may have otherwise not looked at cycling due to health or fitness levels.
The beauty of an ebike is you can choose the level of assistance to suit your level of fitness or ability. For example, the lowest assistance level being no assistance at all and in most cases will be harder to ride than a standard bike due to the extra weight, or top assist which requires very little effort at all from the rider.
Studies have shown than people who ride ebikes can actually burn more calories than those on regular bikes as they are more inclined to travel further distances resulting in longer periods of sustained activity. I have personally used the intensive ‘interval’ technique on my own ebike which works very well and believe me, this is no ride in the park, especially on the hills with no assistance!
Getting back on your bike
We all used to ride bikes everywhere when we were kids right? Not just for getting around, but because at the time it was our own slice of freedom to go on all day adventures with our friends. I’m pretty sure there was not a kid on the planet who gave a second thought to how many calories they had burnt or any other health benefits for that matter when riding. ( I know I didn’t)
The point is, exercise doesn’t have to be a chore, if its something you enjoy then the chances are you will stick at it and reap the long term health benefits as a result.
When I am on my bike nowadays, sure it’s different in the sense I am riding with a purpose or going somewhere but it still brings a smile to my face and for most of the time I am not even thinking about fitness – the sheer enjoyment of riding.
If you are thinking of commuting to work to get you back into cycling then click here to read how I swapped the train for my bike and havent looked back
Over the past year with Covid-19 restrictions forcing us all to ‘Stay at home’ , exercise is one of the few excuses we have to get out of the house – so maybe its time to look at cycling and your health again and get back on your bike, if not for any other reason than it’s just great fun!
===>If you would like to see how to improve your fitness and ways to build muscle from home click here<===
If you have any questions or can provide further advice on the above then please drop me a message below