Cycling is such a common activity that most people barely take it seriously. They ride for various reasons but only a few understand how beneficial this simple exercise can be. It may be nothing more than a recreational activity or mode of transport for you but every time you get on that saddle, your body benefits in countless ways.
You will look better, feel better and your life, in general, will improve. The best part is that these are not just empty words. Every one of these benefits has been proven by science and more research is still underway.
Cycling Facilitates Weight Loss
Riding your bike, even at moderate speed burns calories. For instance, just one hour burns anywhere from 400 to 600 calories. This is awesome because it is not a strenuous activity. The precise number of calories depends on your weight, age and how fit you are.
You will see results even if you do it leisurely. However, anyone trying to cut a lot of weight may want to follow a strict training schedule. In this age of the internet, you will find tons of those online. They will guide you to do it safely since some can be too intense. You should also consult your doctor first. In addition to cycling, incorporate other stretching exercises.
Among the things that make cycling an ideal weight loss activity is the fact that it works all your muscles. You will have “legs for days” and an overall toned body.
Cycling Improves Mental Health
People are finally talking about mental health. It has been a silent killer for a long time. While there are several remedies or solutions (such as therapy), many people still cannot access them. Others have to rely on medication which may have side effects.
Thankfully, researchers are doing all they can to find alternative solutions. One study discovered that physical exercise helps with clinical depression. Bike riding acts pretty much like antidepressants. Unlike medication, you will not have to worry about negative side effects.
It was also discovered that your anxiety sensitivity decreases when you exercise. You may want to try it if you have generalized anxiety.
One other thing that can be curbed by riding your bike is stress. Physical activity is the most recommended stress reliever. When your body is active, it produces more endorphins and dopamine—hormones that make you feel good, relaxed, energetic and act as painkillers. At the same time, cortisol is excreted.
With reduced stress, anxiety and depression, you can expect to sleep better each night. On top of that, you will have higher self-esteem. As a result, your productivity will improve and so will your interactions with the people you love. Sometimes, the best gift you can give your family is a healthy and happy you.
Cycling Makes You Age Well
Growing old is a good thing; but not always. More often than not, it is accompanied by frustrating conditions and even disability. One of the main causes of this is the shrinking of the thymus—the organ that develops T cells. These are key immune cells. The shrinkage begins when you are in your twenties and things can only go downhill from there.
Nonetheless, it has been proven that exercising boosts the development of these T cells. Even as an older cyclist, you can expect to have the same level of T cells as a fit young person. Consequently, your immune system will be remarkable.
Furthermore, there was a study that sought to see if there is a difference between older people who exercise and those that do not. The subjects were all 49 years and above. Those that cycled for an average of 90 minutes every day aged successfully. The non-exercising subjects were twice as likely to develop depression, heart disease and other illnesses.
Cycling Can Prevent Cancer and Other Conditions
Recent studies show that cycling can help you dodge the cancer bullet. For now, evidence shows that you can reduce the risk of colon cancer, breast cancer and probably other types of cancers. This is closely associated with the fact that you lose weight and become leaner when you cycle. Another explanation is that an avid cyclist has very low levels of inflammation.
Just like every other physical activity, cycling regularly reduces the risk of heart disease. Bike riding gets your heart rate up and stimulates your lungs and circulation. Endurance training, in particular, has tremendous benefits such as reduction of cardiovascular mortality. (Note: talk to your doctor before you get into endurance training).
Type 2 diabetes has become prevalent all around the world. It is associated with inactivity and being overweight. Both of these will not be a problem if you start riding your bike daily.
Cycling is an overall immune booster. It is not just the older cyclists that may benefit from high T cell levels.
Cycling Gives You Better Memory
This may very well be the least known benefit of cycling. Aerobic exercises like cycling cause your brain to become physically bigger—especially the part known as the hippocampus. The main purpose of this section is learning and memory. The more it grows, the more nutrients are supplied to it enhancing your ability to learn and remember. If you have a problem remembering things, cycling may be a great solution. Consider involving your children in your riding exercises so they can benefit too. More research is still being carried out concerning this and it may just uncover more benefits.
Isn’t science amazing? Who knew that something as simple as cycling could have such tremendous benefits. By getting on your bike every day, you will be among the healthiest people even in your old age. Your body becomes stronger and your brain grows (literally!). If you have been trying to lose weight for the longest time, your problem will soon be a thing of the past. Find a training schedule and stick to it. Additionally, you might avoid cancer, diabetes and other serious illnesses. Make it a habit to cycle as often as you can. When you cannot find the motivation, remember the above benefits.