Regular cycling is a low-impact form of exercise that burns calories and improves overall cardiovascular health. It also helps to build strength, balance and coordination.
Whether you ride on a treadmill in the gym or enjoy being outdoors and exploring new scenery with friends, cycling is an enjoyable way to get some exercise. It can even help you lose weight!
1. Strengthens your heart and lungs
Many people who haven’t been on a bike in years are dusting off their bikes and reaping the health benefits. Cycling is an excellent cardiovascular workout, which strengthens your heart and keeps your blood pressure low.
Cycling also helps your lungs improve their maximum capacity. As your lungs inflate, they take in more oxygen to meet your body’s energy demands while you ride.
Cycling can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and obesity. It can even improve your mental health. In one study, participants who cycled three times a week performed better on tests that measured their ability to plan, focus and observe. This is due to cycling releasing the feel-good hormone endorphins in your brain.
2. Burns fat
A moderate level of cycling burns a lot of calories and can help reduce your weight. It’s also an ideal exercise for those who suffer from painful hip or knee joints and can’t do higher impact activities such as running.
Pedalling also creates an afterburn effect, which means that you continue to burn fat at an accelerated rate for hours after your workout. This makes cycling an excellent fat-burning exercise, particularly if you do it in the morning.
Studies have found that people who cycle often are at a lower risk of heart disease and other health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. Additionally, one of the most significant health benefits of regular cycling is that it helps protect against bowel cancer.
3. Builds muscle
Cycling is a great way to build leg strength and power. It’s also a very versatile form of exercise, whether you take an indoor group class or pedal outside on your own. And it’s easy to scale the intensity and distance.
You won’t get quads like a pro cyclist by just riding, but you’ll still develop lean muscle in your legs, glutes, and hamstrings. And more muscle burns more calories, even when you’re sedentary.
To really bulk up your legs, though, you need to combine cycling with weight lifting or other resistance training. Standard bodybuilding-style workouts (lifting heavy weight for high reps, blasting only a few muscle groups at a time) don’t tend to provide much benefit. But adding biking to your strength routine does the trick, and research shows that the combination of both yields better results than either alone.
4. Improves your posture
The bike can be an intimidating piece of equipment, especially when you’re starting for the first time. You’ll likely feel sore in your butt and legs after your first few rides, even if you follow the correct cycling form tips.
But it’s not just the legs that benefit from cycling; maintaining proper posture while riding helps improve your power and efficiency. You can strengthen the muscles that support your posture by performing simple exercises like tucking your shoulders back and down, keeping your elbows bent and the arms relaxed.
Plus, cycling is a non-weight bearing exercise that reduces stress on the joints of your knees and hips, which are often the first parts of the body to show signs of aging. Regular cycling may also help improve bone density, which is another concern for aging adults.
5. Helps you sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for cyclists. It’s how your body recovers from strenuous exercise and prepares for the next day’s ride.
Cycling can help you sleep better because it lowers stress and boosts the production of “feel-good” endorphins. In addition, it’s a low impact activity that’s easy on your joints and bones.
Regular cycling can also help you sync your circadian rhythm, which covers your sleep-wake cycle. This can help you fall asleep at night and stay asleep through the night.
Studies have found that moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, like cycling, helps insomniacs fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. It may be because this type of exercise increases blood flow to the brain and, even after a workout is over, some areas of the brain maintain 40 per cent higher levels of blood flow.