You might have learned to cycle as a kid…
Or maybe you’ve seen other people do it and wondered “what’s the point?”.
You jump on a bike, place your feet on the pedals and push until you’ve gained enough momentum to maintain your balance.
While it may sound simple, the benefits behind cycling can be very complex.
From regulating blood sugar, to maintaining and uplifting mood, the advantages are endless.
You need to be outside.
That’s not a bad thing.
But with the rapidly growing industry of tech and the internet, there tends to be a lot of sitting and sedentarism going on.
Not moving can kill you!
The human body is designed to move.
So why not find something that is enjoyable like cycling?
Imagine riding down a long, peaceful country road without a worry in mind.
That would be nice right?
The scenery is up to you but the effort is well worth it.
I’m gonna list a few reasons why you might want to get into it.
But before we share with you the inspiration and research about biking.
Let’s look at why cycling is great compared to other forms of exercise.
Why Cycling Is Great
Everyone can cycle, from toddlers to elderly men and women.
You can choose the terrain and routes that suit your pace.
Second, you only need a bike, a helmet, and a pump.
Other forms of exercises like weight lifting, can require a gym membership and a trainer.
Those monthly costs can add up.
Thirdly, you can do it anywhere and anytime.
It’s impossible to forget how to ride a bike.
Once if you’ve learned how to, it’s a lifelong skill.
Not to mention that you might meet other people who love cycling.
The fun of riding a bike gives you the freedom of going solo or in a group.
If you ride with people you enjoy being with, it become can be such a great joy and wonderful experience.
It’s so easy to quit going to the gym even if you have friends or a trainer to hold you accountable.
People tend to give up on the gym in the first week.
It can take a lot of commitment, time, and planning.
But you only need a bike to start riding, anywhere and anytime.
You can take a casual leisurely ride or ride like you were training for a race, it’s completely up to you.
Let’s look at the health benefits to help encourage you to ride more often and with more effort…
1. Improves Your Mental Health
Cycling improves your mental strength and well-being.
Improving your mental strength and well-being in turn also boosts your mood!
That happens because during the exercise, the body releases adrenaline and endorphins.
These hormones improve your confidence and make you feel good after a long ride.
I personally have never seen a person feel gloomy or sad after a long ride.
Lancet did a study to analyze exercise and mental health on 1,237, 194 adults.
According to the Survey, people participating in Soccer and other team sports consisting of 23.2% experienced less mental breakdown.
21.6% of those participants enjoyed biking and experienced improved mental health.
In other words, bike exercise ranks second in the category.
2. Promote Weight Loss
We know how hard it can be to shed extra pounds.
In fact, most people throw in the towel within a year.
Then the novelty just wears off.Riding a bike is different.
First, it makes you feel like a kid.
Second, you get the urge to explore and pedal everywhere.
Before you know it, you are looking for a riding buddy.
You enjoy cycling a lot more than other exercises because it doesn’t hurt the way weightlifting does.
That’s why it’s so easy to lose weight while cycling.
Recent studies show HIIT( High-Intensity Interval Training) burns 20% to 30% calories than other forms of exercises.
The good news is, bike riding is a form of HIIT exercises, and you are more likely to lose weight when you commit to a schedule.
3. Build Muscle
Which muscles does cycling build?
The glutes, abs, hamstrings, back thighs, and quadriceps.
In other words, it strengthens the core muscles of the body.
But again, it depends on the kind of bike exercises you are doing and how many.
15 to 20 hours of per week of bike riding earns you a solid and steady increase in muscle mass, according to Gottschall.
The lower part of the body is where you will see the most changes.
According to Livestrong, quadriceps, and glutes, pushes down the pedals to generate pedal strokes and move the bike forward.
The hamstrings, hip flexors, and calves also assist in the pedaling.
When you use your strength to push heavy gears on the bike, you cause physiological adaptations and muscle growth in the glutes and quadriceps.
According to Dr. Safron-Norton, cycling increases bone density.
4. Strengthens Lungs
Cycling makes your lung healthy and strong.
Most important, exposes you to less air pollution compared to other motorists.
Air pollution causes 29,000 premature deaths in the UK each year.
With walking and cycling, you will expose yourself to less air pollution than those in traffic.
You want to cycle to become healthy right?
Well it kind of defeats the purpose to breath in smog while biking.
When you walk or cycle, you probably want to take a quieter route away from the city traffic.
The quieter route exposes you to less pollution.
Respiratory Physiology and Neurobiology Research concluded that a 12-week of HIIT has a significant improvement to your abdominal expiratory muscles and diaphragm.
All the hard work coming
5. Reduces Risk of Heart Diseases and Cancer
Are you worried if you are pushing the heart to the limit?
On the contrary, sedentary living puts you at risk.
Cycling can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and stress.
The only thing you need to do is to make sure you know your cardiac status before you start cycling.
You should ask your doctor for advice before starting any exercise program.
The NHS recommends cycling as a way of cutting the risks associated with heart disease and cancer.
Recent research from Harvard states, people who cycled every day had 15% fewer heart attacks than those who did not.
Another study also found that bicycle motorists had a low chance of developing heart diseases.
All this research proves cycling is beneficial for your heart muscle.
Even a half an hour of bike riding improves your heart muscles.
6. Improves Sex Life
Cycling doesn’t cramp your sex life.
Instead, it makes your sex life even better and remarkable.
People tend to jump to the quick fix like mind-altering chemicals (alcohol, drugs, and viagra).
But with cycling as exercise, it can help maintain the natural chemical balance in your body.
Cycling keeps adrenaline or cortisol in check while reducing stress and enhancing relaxation.
And less stress is associated with good mood and higher libido.
A new study from the American Urological Association states that both men and women had a high score in sexual function tests.
The test paid attention to areas such as arousal, satisfaction, self-confidence, etc.
Cyclists had a fantastic sex life.
The only thing you need to be careful is the bike seats.
Make sure you sit on a comfortable bike seat before you start riding.
Second, avoid high-intensity cycling so that you don’t develop numbness and saddles sores.
7. Improves Sleep
How physical activity like riding a bike improves sleep is unclear due to limited research.
However, researchers suspect the results have to do with the brain and the body.
Let me explain:
You see, exercise enhances relaxation, which reduces anxiety, which is a great contributor to insomnia.
After cycling, your body will need time to recover especially if it was higher effort than usual.
From this, you will likely have deeper sleep as your body will go through the process of growth and repair.
In other words:
Sleeping is like giving your body time to repair itself.
That explains why a person who exercises tend to get better sleep than those who don’t.
University of Georgia did a study on 8,000 men and women in connection with fitness and sleep.
The results were out:
If a study participant became less fit, they had trouble falling asleep.
Besides that, exercises protect one from gaining excess weight, which is the biggest risk for sleep apnea.
8. Boosts Brain Power
Any exercise, including cycling, improves brain health, and reduces cognitive changes that can cause dementia.
Cycling builds enhances that brain to muscle connection.
When you pedal, you increase blood flow to all your body, including the brain.
Cycling stimulates the growth of BDNF, which is responsible the growth of new brain cells.
Throughout the process, cycling doubles the production of neurons in the brain.
Besides that, cycling also boosts and improves the brain’s white matter.
The white matter transmits information to different part of the body from cerebral cortex.
That means, when you engage in cycling, all systems in the brain will run smoothly.
A study of young, healthy men pedaling on the stationary bike showed that they scored high on reasoning and memory compared to those who didn’t.
Even cortisol levels in their body declined every time they pedaled for more than 15 minutes.
All these studies show cycling is beneficial for both mental and emotionally healthy.
9. Strengthens Immune System
Cycling can slow the aging effects, and increases your immune system.
Biking improves the number of white blood cells in the body.
In fact, high-intensity interval cycling increases your bodys capacity for mitochondria.
One thing you have to understand is, a decline in mitochondria level in the body leads to age-related conditions.
Mitochondria are powerhouses of cells.
They convert macronutrients into Adenosine Triphosphate or ATP.
The conversion process is vital for biological functions in the body.
Most importantly, it improves your well-being.
Sreekumar Hair, M.D, Ph.D. states that a decline of mitochondria contributes to age-related conditions such as arthritis, hypertension, gastrointestinal issues, decreased flexibility, and cardiovascular issues.
And high interval cycling is the answer for mitochondria production in the body.
10. Enhances Recovery
You know that feeling when you’re sore and hurting?
The last thing you want to do is get out and exercise.
But when you ride a bike at an easy going speed, you actually enhance recovery by stimulating blood flow.
Studies like the ones below have proven it, take a look….
The NHS recommends low impact physical activity like swimming or cycling after surgery.
The low impact exercises allow the body to heal and build up muscle strength without causing lots of stress on the knee.
The 2010 issues of the journal of Bones and Joint surgery states cycling is beneficial to patients who want a hip replacement.
11. Makes You Happy
Cycling boosts happiness and mental satisfaction.
In fact, it reduces stress and anxiety.
Cycling on a bike stimulates the production of dopamine and cannabinoids hormone which contributes to better mood and happiness.
Research at Clemson and the University of Pennsylvania made it official that people who bike to any destination were happier than folks who did not.
And according to Eric Morris, one of the researchers at Clemson, people are less likely to perform complex exercises like weightlifting, and are more likely to enjoy riding a bike.
With cycling, you get that sense of accomplishment without having lots of skills under your belt.
Handpicked ResearchMental Health foundation states that physical exercises makes you feel calm, happy, and contented.
And cycling is like any other physical activity.
The study goes on to say that exercises like cycling boost self-esteem and confidence.
12. Regulates Blood Sugar
People with type two diabetes benefit more from cycling activity than walking.
That’s because diabetic people tend to experience poor circulation in their lower limbs.
But that’s not all.
If the condition is not controlled, it can lead to other ailments such as ulcers.
Cycling increases blood flow to the lower limbs, reduce leg swelling, and improves sensation.
Best of all, because cycling utilizes glucose in the muscle, it can regulate diabetes.
A study from the University of South Australia shows that people with type two diabetes are better off cycling than walking.
Dr. Annette Royna from the same institution said, cycling program improved sensation and blood flow to the feet.
Cycling is such an easy and enjoyable activity.
It’s a low impact, simple exercise.
You’ll still be reaping all the advantages of burning calories.
Once you have learned how to ride a bike, it’s not easily forgotten.
It’s a lifelong skill that just stays with you.
That’s all the more reason you need to get into it.
There isn’t any pressure of not being good enough because you’ve all the skill already.
If you aren’t convinced, let this be a final attempt at persuading you.
Have you ever really explored your city? Your neighborhood?
You probably haven’t seen much more than the scenery around your commute to school or work.
Cycling gives you the advantage of beautiful scenery and the ability to explore your city with ease.
So are you motivated enough to start cycling? Or have you already been doing it?
Let me know in the comments below…