Cycling is more than a fun pastime or cheap way to run errands. This sport has several benefits that may inspire you to transform it into a regular workout routine. The most significant benefit is that it’s a versatile way of exercising that can match different lifestyles, goals, and fitness levels.
You can join a cycling group class, cycle at home on a stationary bike, or pedal outdoors, depending on your preferences. You can engage in an intense indoor cycling session or get your bike and pedal in the local park enjoying the surroundings and bathing in the sun.
Regardless of how you choose to cycle, know you’re doing your body and mind some good. Here is how riding a bike could change your life for the better.
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What kind of exercise is cycling?
Before adding cycling to your fitness routine, let’s find out what kind of exercise it is. Fitness experts define cardio as a great cardiovascular exercise. So, if you’re in need of a stellar cardio exercise, introduce it to your schedule. It involves several large muscle groups as they have to work simultaneously to power the movement.
However, even if cycling is a cardiovascular exercise, it also strengthens your lower body and core, especially if you’re pedalling on inclined surfaces or with greater resistance. This is why some fitness pros call cycling a hybrid exercise.
Therefore, cycling is the ideal sport if you want to improve your cardiovascular health and boost your strength.
Benefits of cycling
Cycling enables you to achieve your ideal weight
Cycling regularly at a high intensity can help you lower your body fat levels, so hopping on a bike might be the first step towards achieving your goal if you want to get in a slimmer shape. However, you should know that body transformation via cycling takes longer to see, as compared with other cardio exercises. Cycling is a leg-dominant exercise, so you’ll first see muscle mass and definition in your legs and then throughout your body. Body transformation through cycling in the average individual takes 12 to 16 weeks.
After 12 weeks, you’ll see noticeable changes in the way your triceps, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves look, as they’re the main responsible muscles for cycling.
Cycling also burns belly fat, even if the stomach muscles don’t work as hard as the leg ones. The exercise’s nature is aerobic, so it burns fat. Surprisingly, cycling at a lower intensity burns more fat than cycling at a high intensity. If you want to boost calorie burn, engage in interval training.
Cycling is a low impact exercise
Riding a bike doesn’t put stress on your joints, no matter if you pedal outside or inside. Even if you didn’t hop on a bike for years, you could quickly figure out how to do it again because it doesn’t require much expertise. The likelihood to get injured when running in the park is greater than when cycling, and runners usually suffer 133% more muscle damage, inflammation, and DOMS than cyclists.
However, cycling accidents are common, especially when pedalling outdoors without knowing the environment. If you cycle in your local park, make sure to stay on the marked routes because adventuring on side trails in the forest can increase the risk of an accident. The local authorities must maintain bike lanes throughout your town to provide safe and secure cycling conditions. But negligence is common among some local councils, so you may fall victim to an accident due to poor road conditions. Also, you are prone to traffic accidents if you choose to ride the bike in intense traffic because car drivers aren’t accustomed to meeting cyclists in traffic. In case someone injures you while riding your bike, you can claim compensation to pay for medical treatment.
Cycling can improve your health
You have already learnt that cycling is a form of cardio. A study from 2019 reveals that it can improve your cardiovascular system to provide oxygen to your body. It only takes 10 minutes of cycling daily to improve your fitness level.
Suppose you attend an indoor cycling class that includes high-intensity interval training, a kind of workout that implies performing exercises at max effort followed by short rest periods. In that case, you can boost your aerobic capacity. Cycling is also known for improving your body’s insulin sensitivity and blood pressure.
Healthcare specialists state that regular aerobic exercise lowers the risk of dementia, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. It can also aid in improved cognition and sleep. Furthermore, riding your bike regularly can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression and improve your quality of life.
Cycling can boost your mood
A cycling class with the motivational pep talk from the trainer and hyped-up background music has a positive vibe. The energy the cycling class provides definitely greatly impacts your mood because you cannot keep yourself from smiling when you’re pedalling in a dance-club-like atmosphere.
Cycling outdoors can also have a similar effect on your spirits because studies show that spending time in nature lowers the risk of stress and mental health conditions. Of course, no type of exercise could replace an actual treatment for mental health issues but can help alleviate some symptoms. Engaging in a cardio workout can build some mental strength. Once you manage to push through your discomfort and no longer feel fatigued and breathless, you start feeling more confident when practising sports and in other life areas. After a challenging cycling session, it’s easy to think that you can handle everything compared with what you just experienced.
The repetitive nature of pedalling on a bike while listening to music or bathing in the sun can have a meditative effect on your mind. You become one with the wind and start to connect with your body. Physical activities usually bring you into a peaceful state and help you detach yourself from the challenges you experience daily.
Cycling is one of the most enjoyable cardio activities as it helps you stay healthy while enabling you to connect with the world around you.