Health benefits of cycling via @guardian


One of the best ways to explore the outdoors and get a bit of exercise is by getting on your bike and enjoying the benefits of cycling. So saddle up and read our advice to pedal you on.

An accessible way to exercise

You can ride a bicycle almost anywhere, at any time of the year, and without spending a fortune. Many people are intimidated by certain sports due to the high level of skill required, or perhaps because they can’t commit to team sports due to time pressures. Most of us know how to cycle and once you have learnt you don’t forget. All you need is a bike, a half hour here or there, and a bit of confidence.

Promotes weight loss

Steady cycling burns approximately 300 calories per hour. If you cycle for 30 minutes every day you can burn 11 pounds of fat in a year. Since it helps build muscle, cycling will also boost your metabolic rate long after you’ve hopped off the saddle.

Increases muscle tone

Cycling gradually improves general muscle-function, with little risk of over-exercise or strain. Regular cycling strengthens leg muscles and is great for the mobility of hip and knee joints. You will begin to see an improvement in the muscle tone of your legs, thighs, bum and hips.

Improves cardiovascular fitness

Cycling is a fantastic aerobic exercise to improve fitness. Studies have shown that cycling to work can increase cardiovascular fitness by 3-7%. Cycling uses the larger muscle groups (i.e. the legs), raising your heart rate, which benefits stamina and fitness.

Improves heart health

According to the British Medical Association, cycling just 20 miles a week can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 50%. A major study of 10,000 civil servants suggested that those who cycled 20 miles over the period of a week were half as likely to suffer heart disease as their non-cycling colleagues. These findings were independent of other factors such as smoking, obesity, high blood cholesterol and blood pressure.

Enhances lung function

Regular cycling improves lung function, which is extremely beneficial to anyone suffering from bronchitis or asthma.

Safe for joints

Since it is low impact, cycling is suitable for all age groups from 6-60. Many people can’t do certain sports because of the pressure it puts on their joints (like running or aerobics). A bicycle takes the weight off the body so you put much less pressure on the joints whilst cycling.

Reduces stress

Any regular exercise can reduce stress and depression and improve well-being and self-esteem; cycling can add the benefit of beautiful surroundings.

Fits into a busy lifestyle

Little or no time has to be lost. Bike travel can be integrated into your daily routine if you travel to work, perform errands, or simply get outside for some fresh air and exercise.

Safety measures

  1. If you haven’t been active for some time, consult with your doctor before you start.
  2. Always wear a well-fitted cycle helmet; off-road as well as on-road. It may save your life.
  3. Wear bright colours and use lights after dark.
  4. Always follow the rules of the road.
  5. Maintain your bike. You should learn simple repairs; carry a basic tool kit, and a spare inner tube.

After a few months of cycling regularly, it may be the only spare tyre you carry.

Guardian EatRight {inactive link}


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