Cycling targets a range of areas that are responsible for improving your vitality and longevity, from stimulating your cardiovascular system to promoting weight loss.
But what’s the exact health profile of cycling, and how can a spin around the park support both your physical and mental health?
Cycle for a healthy heart and bank account
A study by R. Patterson et al. has found that people who frequently cycled to work had a 24% lower risk of death as a result of cardiovascular disease.
The heart is at the core of your whole being. It pumps out blood to your entire body, providing every cell with oxygen and nutrition. As such, it is important to take good care of it, and cycling is a great way to increase your heart rate and activate those processes.
Increasing your heart rate is key to keeping your whole body healthy, as it boosts your brain and muscle function, helps you burn calories, and improves your stamina.
While also bikes are the most energy efficient form of transportation and healthier for the environment. The same goes for your bank account. Cyclescheme who are a provider of the Government’s Cycle to Work programme. Carried out some research on annual running costs between different modes of transportation. On average it was found that it costs £3,727 per annum to run a car. However, to cycle it is just £396. Saving you a hefty £3,331 each year.
Increasing your heart rate with cycling has a host of benefits for your brain function. It acts as an anti-depressant by stimulating the release of endorphins and other mood-enhancing chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine. Added to the extra oxygen being pumped into the brain, you will likely feel more positive and calmer.
Moreover, cycling can improve your memory, cognitive function, and learning capabilities, as it creates new neurons in the brain. According to researchers from the University of Illinois, a 5% improvement in cardio-respiratory ﬁtness from cycling led to a 15% increase in performance in mental tests.
What muscles does cycling target?
If you’re looking for the one exercise that targets pretty much all muscle groups, you’ve found it. Cycling is a full-body workout, and it’s especially good for your lower body, as it activates your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, core, and waistline.
With cycling, you won’t get bulky as you would with bodybuilding, granting you a lean body that is fit and healthy.
How many calories do you burn while cycling?
Cycling is great for weight loss as it can make you break a sweat and burn some calories. But how many calories can you actually burn while cycling? That depends on a variety of factors, including aerodynamics, elevation, speed, road surface, and mainly your weight. Riding mountain bikes in the forest, for example, would burn more calories than riding a commuter bike on the cycle path. Cycling Weekly has estimated the number of calories you would burn based on your speed and weight. If you cycled with 15mph/24kph, you would burn the following:
Combined with a healthy diet rich in protein, you can easily shed a few kilograms and look and feel your best.
Ward off cancer
Scientists might have not yet discovered the cure for cancer, but they have evidence that cycling decreases the risk of developing cancer.
The abovementioned study by R. Patterson et al. showed that those who frequently cycled to work instead of travelling by car had an 11% lower chance of a cancer diagnosis and a 16 % reduced rate of death from cancer.
Decrease your sick days
How many sick days have you had this past year? Viruses and illnesses often appear as the result of a weakened immune system. Cycling can give your immune system a much-needed boost to help it fight diseases, viruses, and bacteria.
Cycling makes immune cells more active, so they’re ready to ﬁght off infection at any given time. And an improved immune system means fewer sick days and more time to enjoy life.
Cycling is a golden ticket to our ultimate health. It’s cheap, easy to engage in, and environmentally friendly. If we could all fit a cycling session into our schedules, imagine all the health benefits we will get that our minds and bodies will thank us for!