We all know that regular cardiovascular exercise has many health and fitness benefits. One of the cheapest and most accessible ways to exercise is through cycling; with the bonus that it can also be used as a method of transportation! Simply swapping the morning commute in the motor to a leisurely cycle to the office or university can be an effective and money-saving workout. Cycling is suitable for all age groups and can become a fun family activity for those with children. As a relatively low-impact activity, even most people with health conditions can take part; and routes and intensities can be adapted for all proficiencies. For those who are seeking something a little more adventurous, mountain biking or learning some new BMX skills have all the same health benefits whilst being much more exciting than a leisurely bike ride through the town’s streets. Teenagers may be particularly interested in visiting one of the BMX parks which have begun to appear in many towns, and this can be an effective way of keeping teens engaged with health and fitness. If you need further convincing of the benefits, then read on.
Cycling, whilst being suitable for most people – regardless of previous fitness levels, can be an intense workout and can help individuals to lose or maintain their weight through calories burnt. You don’t have to be competing in the Tour de France to feel the benefit either; a 20-minute bike ride could burn up to 300 calories depending on weight and intensity.
Regular cycling will help to build muscle, which continues to burn calories even when exercise is over. In addition to helping to maintain a healthy weight, cycling is also a great method to tone the legs, hips and buttocks.
Keeping your heart healthy
Cardiovascular exercise is crucial to maintaining a healthy heart, and is especially vital for people who are overweight. Whilst traditional cardiovascular workouts such as aerobics or jogging may prove difficult and damaging to the joints of overweight people, cycling is an effective cardiovascular workout that places minimal strain on the joints. The government recommends that all adults undertake a minimum of 2 ½ hours of physical activity each week; or 30-minutes on 5 days a week. This is perfect for those who would like to swap their commute for a bike ride; or for those who can commit to exercising before or after work. This level of exercise is associated with reduced risks of heart attacks, some forms of cancer and chronic conditions such as diabetes.
Reducing stress and boosting mental health
Cycling has been shown to be effective at improving mood and reducing stress; with the endorphins released through exercise contributing to a ‘feel good’ factor following exercise. People with stressful jobs can often find that cycling to and from their workplace is an effective technique for reducing the stress of the office and arriving back at home in a calmer state of mind. There are also additional benefits of increased self-confidence through better fitness and weight management, as well as improving activity and concentration levels for those who take regular exercise.
Cycling increases muscle tone and shapes the legs, hips and buttocks; leaving regular bike riders with an enviable figure and increased muscle. It’s a relatively low-impact activity, so can be very helpful for those who feel they are unable to do most exercise due to weight, joint conditions or injuries.
If the Olympic cyclists have inspired you to make some positive changes, then there has never been a better time to dust off the cycling cap, gloves and socks and get on your bike!