6 WAYS THAT CYCLING CAN IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH15 September, 2014 0 comments
6 Ways That Cycling Can Improve Your Health
It is well known that regular cycling can improve your fitness, but that is a very sweeping statement, and not to be taken at face value. If you are about to buy a bicycle to help in part of your fitness regime, then you will need to know where it fits in the overall picture. In short, you need to know how it will help, and what else you need to do that cycling does not cover. In this article we will take a look at some of the things cycling will do for you, but you must remember that cycling is not a cure all for your health and fitness needs; it should be considered a part of your whole fitness schedule. However, even for those who simply cycle to work, you will see that there are many benefits to be had.
Your muscle tone will no doubt increase with the more cycling you do. www.ultracycling.com, tells us that the gluteal muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles are the main muscles that are used on your bike, and these are the ones that you will find improving the quickest. However, you will also see other muscles tone up the more you ride, and because this is a slow process, they will tone up with little chance of injury. There is no doubt that your arms will benefit from cycling too, and you will see improvement in your biceps and forearms as you pull on your handle bars and use them to hold up your weight. Even your shoulders and back will benefit from extra work, as will other muscles depending on the handlebars being used, so you should see most of your body improve its muscle tone.
People seem to think that unless you are cycling competitively, mountain biking, or cycling for hour after hour, that cycling does not burn many calories. This is very far from the truth and the people at everydayhealth.com have a calculator that will show you what you can burn. A 160 pound man cycling at under10mph for an hour should burn 290 calories, which is certainly not to be sniffed at. The benefits of losing weight through this calorie burning, for those that need it, are many; and among them you can count lower blood pressure, reduced strain on your heart, less chance of diabetes, and could even the risk of type 2 diabetes. Of course, something that should not be forgotten is that as cycling will increase your metabolism, you will continue to burn calories even after you have finished your ride.
Running alongside the development of muscle tone is the increase in strength that working your muscles will bring. I don’t think that anybody would tell you that if you that riding a bicycle is the best way to get stronger. However, riding a bike will increase your general strength, and that alone can have great benefits for people. You will see an improvement in stamina as you ride more, your posture will improve as your stronger muscles help support your frame, and you will gain confidence in yourself as you feel your strength increasing.
Working Your Heart
Your legs are the biggest muscle group in your body, if you are working your legs, then you are making your heart work, which will make it stronger (after all it too is a muscle) and more efficient. Benefits of your newly energized heart will be lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and a greatly reduced risk of heart disease. In fact, riding a bike for 20miles a week will reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by a massive 50% (according to the British Medical Association). Improving your cardiovascular system will make you feel better in everything you do, and you will find yourself better able to play sports, and to carry out your everyday activities.
One of the often overlooked benefits of cycling is the benefit to your mental health. James Blumenthal, PhD, professor of behavioral medicine at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, says that "Exercise works as well as psychotherapy and antidepressants in the treatment of depression, maybe better", and who are we to argue. Not only does cycling give your brain a boost in the smarts department, it also helps with the stresses and strains of our lives. Cycling for 20-30 minutes releases chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin, and both of these chemicals help you to feel good; thus helping you to forget any anxieties you may have. Further exercise will help to release endorphins and cannabinoids into your system to help fight off those daily blues. As you can see, cycling is a great way to help you with any stresses and if you are feeling down, a cycle ride can help you to forget your troubles brush away your troubles.
Many people who want to get fit and improve their health would prefer to go jogging or play a team sport, but they are not considering the damage that they could be doing their joints. Running is notorious for impact injuries to the legs, and if you do not buy quality sports shoes you could suffer badly. Even the best running shoes will not stop the damage to your elbows, shoulders and wrists associated with racquet sports. Cycling is a non-impact sport, and your joints, muscles, and tendons will be much better off because of it. Obviously, even cycling has body injuries associated with it, but taking up cycling will nullify a great many sports related injuries, and that has to be better for your overall health.
Cycling may not be a one stop option for your health and fitness needs, but, as you can see from these examples, cycling does have many great benefits for your health. Even if you only spend 20 minutes a day cycling back and fore to work, it is something that we should all consider doing.