Cycling is one of the oldest forms of exercise and transportation, and remains popular all over the world. It’s very accessible, and just about anyone can do it.
This probably isn’t new information to you, but there’s a fairly good chance that you may not be aware of the many benefits of cycling.
While some benefits may be more obvious than the others, the fact remains that cycling is one of the most beneficial physical activities you can undertake, regardless of your reasons for doing so.
Below are some of the most notable benefits, which range anywhere from better health, to a better body, to a better state of mind.
The primary net benefits from cycling all involve improvements in your physical health. With just two to four hours of cycling per week, you can experience a noticeable improvement in your health in as little as one month. Consistent cycling ensures even greater results.
Here are just a few of the many health benefits you can provide yourself.
Cycling strengthens your heart muscles, lowers resting pulse and reduces blood fat levels, all of which are essential to creating a healthier body.
Your cardiac health is the key to your overall fitness, as a stronger heart allows you to have more energy, while taking on higher levels of physical activity without burning out as quickly.
Those that cycle on a routine basis sleep better, get up easier in the mornings, and have a more consistent amount of energy throughout the day. Who wouldn’t want that?
Cycling also reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
These diseases include stroke, high blood pressure and heart attack. Regular cycling stimulates and improves your heart, lungs and circulation, reducing your risk of cardiovascular diseases.
So the benefits here are actually twofold; you improve your overall health, while helping your body’s fight against serious heart diseases and issues.
Tone Lower Body
As you are probably already aware, cycling involves intensive use of your lower body, particularly in the legs and butt.
If you’re someone that wants to have toned thighs, but don’t feel like doing intensive strength and weight training all the time, cycling is a perfect alternative.
If you do enjoy those other exercises -- all the better
While you can certainly bulk up and slim down certain parts of your lower body with other training methods, cycling always helps to tone this area, refining the appearance while still offering you all of the other health benefits that come along with it.
The constant riding motion with your legs is a nearly non-stop way to consistently keep your lower body churning right along, whether you’re climbing a steep hill, or just making your way down the road or path. Either way, your lower body is always engaged, which not only builds up strength, but always tones.
The key to losing weight is burning more calories than you take in. Any type of exercise burns calories, but exercises such as cycling tend to be the most effective.
Cycling is an aerobic exercise after all, which works to burn fat all over your body, rather than just one specific area. Aerobic exercise burns a large amount of calories.
Heart-rate-raising exercises such as cycling burn abundant calories and work to reduce your total body mass. Thus, cycling can be a major key to your weight loss goals.
Another great thing about cycling is the fact that it isn’t nearly as intensive as strength and bulk training.
For those that may be physically limited in terms of undertaking these types of exercises, cycling offers them something they can do instead, while still receiving an array of benefits.
Cycling’s accessibility also adds to its appeal.
Not everyone is going to want to lift weights or join a gym in their weight loss quest, but bicycling is something that the vast majority of people are comfortable and familiar with -- and acquiring a bike is a simple process.
Better Posture and Coordination
Correct posture is something that millions of people struggle with. It’s not simply relegated to people with desk jobs. Even though cycling does not involve you standing up straight with your shoulders back, it is actually a great way to improve your posture.
When you are riding a bicycle, you are forced to keep your back straight, and avoid any slouching. The physical motion of grasping the handlebars and pedaling keeps your body engaged, even if you are leaning forward when on a road bike. This also strengthens your lower back muscles.
All of this is dependent on having a properly sized bike, so do keep this in mind. If your bike’s frame is too big or too small, you may end up causing discomofort over time, and even injuries such as muscle strains.
Coordination is another benefit that comes from cycling on a routine basis. There are a lot of things going on at one time when you are on bike. At any given second, you are pedaling, steering, and maintaining awareness of your surroundings. The more you cycle, the better your coordination gets.
Cycling is a low-impact exercise. In fact, in most cases, it’s more or less a zero-impact exercise. This is important to point out for several reasons, mainly in regards to recovering from injuries.
If you follow sports, you may notice from time to time when a player is injured, they may be pictured or videos on the sidelines riding a stationary cycle during practice.
One of the main reasons is that cycling gives you the ability to have an aerobic exercise and stay in shape, even when you you have lower body or back injuries that may prevent you from running, or weight training.
For instance, if you have an ankle injury, you’re probably not going to be able to hit the treadmill for an hour a day while you are letting it heal. Cycling is a much more viable option. The same can be said for numerous other injuries.
Aside from staying in shape during injury recovery, cycling can also be used to rehabilitate certain injuries, especially in the knee area. The low-impact motion of cycling can be very beneficial to a variety of knee injuries, which includes chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis.
Cycling gives you the ability to work certain lower body joints in a gentle fashion that completely avoids any impact or jarring motions. This builds strength in these particularly areas and injuries, while also enhancing flexibility.
Cycling to Work
Riding a bike to work provides you with a wide range of benefits that cover everything from your health, to your wallet. We could probably come up with enough reasons for biking to your job to fill an entire article on its own, but we’ll just focus on these five reasons for now.
Cheaper Than Driving/Public Transportation
In case you didn’t know, commuting to work can often consume a lot of gas. Not only are you making a round trip the majority of the week, you’re usually doing it during peak traffic hours, which means a lot of stop and go traffic. This kind of driving situation means even more gas used.
Commuting is generally responsible for the the highest percentage of your gas usage. By riding your bike to work, even if it’s just one or two days out of the week, you are routinely cutting down on the gas you use, which will certainly add up over time, and leave you with some extra cash on hand.
The same can be said for public transportation. Bus and subway tickets cost money, as does taking a cab or using a ride-share service. Biking is free, so take advantage.
No Worrying About Parking
For many, finding a parking spot can be a huge pain, especially in major cities. Doing it every single work day is not exactly the most entertaining situation to face on a regular basis. You may even have to pay for your parking, which makes it even worse.
When biking to work, you usually have an array of options for where to leave your bike, and none of them involve finding a parking space. Bike racks are more plentiful than ever, and in some cases, you may be able to bring your bike inside your workplace to store away until it’s time to go home.
Either way, the frustrations of finding the perfect parking spot each day are avoided. You always have the best spot when you bike to work.
Fit Your Workout Into Your Commute
Not everyone has the time to fit in an exercise routine before or after work. Others may simply lack the motivation to do so on a regular basis. Regardless of your reasoning (or excuses,) cycling to work is one of the most effective ways to ensure consistent exercise.
It’s all pretty simple, actually. Cycling is one of the most efficient workouts possible, so using it to get to work is a way to make it even more functional, in a practical sense. You get a workout on your way to work, and on your way home.
Before you know it, you’ll have a lot more energy than before, and you’ll likely notice some changes in the mirror as well. Oh, and you may need to buy some best cycling shorts too.
No Traffic Jams
One of the most frustrating things about commuting to work is the traffic. As mentioned earlier, the morning and afternoon rush hours are centered around the normal work schedule. If you work during the standard 9 to 5 hours, you have encountered your fair share of traffic jams. If you’re running late to work, this can be infuriating.
Traffic jams can obviously happen aside from rush hour as well.
Construction, wrecks, and other factors can grind traffic to a standstill. If you’re on your way to work, you’re mad that you’re late.
If you’re on the way home, you’re mad that you’re not home yet.
Fortunately, your odds of getting into any kind of traffic jam when riding a bike are virtually non-existent.
Once you get your route down, the time it takes you to get to and from work should be almost identical each day, barring and bad weather.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
With all the ways that have sprung up over the last few years in regards to being more environmentally friendly, avoiding transportation in any method that involves fossil fuels is still one of the best.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for every mile ridden, one full pound of CO2 is saved from being released into the atmosphere. That certainly adds up over time.
Each day you bike to work, you’re helping the air around you, while still receiving all the other numerous benefits. It’s a true win-win situation.
Mental Health Benefits
As strange as it may initially sound, cycling is one of the best ways to improve your mental health in more than a few ways.
Any kind of physical activity is a good way to relieve stress, and since cycling is an aerobic activity, it’s even more effective. It’s also a good way to blow off some steam on the way to the workplace, and definitely afterwards -- Or really just anytime.
Being outdoors in general is good for your mental state as well. Cycling gives you a reason to be outside for an extended period.
Regardless of where you live, it gives you a fun and healthy way to see your nearby surroundings up close and personal, rather than a more disconnected vantage point from inside a car.
As you can see by now, there are plenty of reasons to make cycling a part of your life. Just a few hours total over the course of the week can have a significant impact on your health and wellbeing in numerous ways.
It’s easy to get started, if you haven’t already. All you need is a bike, and a maybe a few gear items, and you’re good to go. Once you’re all set, you can start enjoying all of the benefits of cycling, whether it’s a leisurely spin around the neighborhood, or on your morning ride on the way to work.
Regardless of your cycling preference, you’ll still be enjoying the many positive effects that cycling can have in your life, so get to it!