As I was brewing this article I tested some of the benefits of cycling as I was having a block while writing. After hitting the pedals and feeling the wind for a while my fingers flew like it.
Want to discover and test them? Go for a ride after reading and you’ll see what I mean!
Table of Contents
- Weight management and loss
- Benefits of cycling for the body
- Cycling Benefits for Mental health
- Benefits of cycling for the prevention and management of specific medical conditions
- The finish line
Weight management and loss
1.-Decreases body fat levels
Cycling burns between 300 and 1000 calories per hour depending on the intensity. It also improves the metabolic rate. The body continues to burn calories and fat even hours after the ride. Studies have found that cycling 30 minutes a day for a year can burn almost 5 kilograms of fat.
A good tip: Cyclists that included fast intervals into their ride burned up to 3½ times more calories. Compared to a cyclist riding at a stable pace.
If you are serious about losing weight. Combining cycling with a healthy diet will help you to achieve your goals.
Benefits of cycling for the body
2.-Builds muscular strength
Cycling is indeed all about legs. Doing it regularly will build your muscles. Hamstrings, quads, calves, glutes, and flexor muscles in the hips. But because of the force needed to stay in balance and hold the handlebars and steer, it will also strengthen the abdominal, back, shoulder, and arms muscles!
3.-Ameliorates lung health
Cycling improves your lung capacity and lung function. While pedaling, especially when mounting a hill or going faster. The heart and lungs work harder, as the muscles need more oxygen. The extra work makes the respiratory muscles stronger than they would if you didn’t ride or exercise.
Careful thought. Riding in cold temperatures below 0 can be harmful to the respiratory system. Take into account that the extra demand for oxygen will make you breathe through your mouth. It comes in handy to have a cycling mask or a scarf while riding on dusty roads.
Although pollution is a common concern, a recent study by the Healthy Air Campaign, King’s College London, and Camden Council demonstrated that cyclists experienced less pollution. When compared to a driver (5 times less), a bus user (2½ times less), and a pedestrian (3½ times less).
According to Harley Street gastroenterologist Dr. Ana Raimundo, aerobic exercise while cycling increases the stimulation of intestinal muscles. It prevents feeling bloated and protects you against bowel cancer. She also explains:
“Physical activity helps decrease the time it takes food to move through the large intestine, limiting the amount of water absorbed back into your body and leaving you with softer stools, which are easier to pass”.Dr. Ana Raimundo
5.-Strengthens the immune system
Doing mild and moderate exercise has the following benefits:
- Release a protein called endogenous pyrogen. The protein increases the body’s temperature, making it more hostile to invading bugs.
- Produce more interferon, a protein that is active against viruses.
- Increase the activity of ‘killer’ white blood cells.
According to Professor Tim Noakes of exercise science and sports medicine at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, the effects of these cells and proteins combined reduce the risk of an athlete getting an infection. On the contrary, doing high levels of training and competitive stress increases the risk of infection.
6.-Facilitates a better sleep
A fitness decrease of 2 percent for men and 4 percent for women will cause sleep problems.
Cycling will boost your cardiovascular fitness making it easier to fall asleep. Demonstrated in a study from the University of Georgia.
They studied over 8000 people between the ages of 20 and 85. And discovered a strong correlation between cardiovascular fitness and the ability to fall asleep.
7.-Spices sex life
Cycling has good news for men and women that want to improve their sexual life.
For men: it’s demonstrated by urologists that cycling strengthens the muscles used during intercourse. So the strongest these muscles get, the longest and the more athletic the intercourse will be.
A study from Harvard University found that men aged 50, who cycle at least 3 hours a week, have a 30 percent lower risk of impotence than sedentary peers.
For women: being fit will delay menopause from 2 to 5 years as proven by a study of Cornell University.
In another study by UC San Francisco, they found that the more you ride the better your sexual function.
“Lifetime miles ridden was associated with better sexual function, as measured by a common, validated questionnaire”Thomas W. Gaither
Saddle sores and infections can indeed kill the vibes of the ladies. But this can be reduced by choosing the right saddle and a proper bike fit. Also by using a chamois cream specially made for women as a protective barrier. And do not forget to clean yourself as soon as you finish your ride.
8.-Lengthens life expectancy and incereases anti-aging benefits
Cycling will make you 9 years biologically younger according to King´s College of London. They went on and compared 2400 identical twins, who did the equivalent of 3 – 45 minutes rides a week. Not to mess with the results, which will make the difference bigger, they discounted influence factors such as smoking and body mass.
High-intensity exercises like cycling have cellular deep anti-aging benefits. Doing this type of exercise will increase mitochondrial capacity. Meaning, the better your mitochondrial functions the more rejuvenated the cells are, as this study finds.
Cycling Benefits for Mental health
9.-Improves grey matter
Cycling improves your blood flow and oxygen into the brain, which in turn fires and regenerates receptors.
A study made by researchers at the University of Illinois found that an increase of 5 percent in cardiorespiratory fitness due to cycling gets an improvement by up to 15 percent in mental tests.
10.-Boost your mood
As an exercise, cycling makes your body release endorphins. Their effects are well known:
- Help bring feelings of euphoria and general well-being
- Decrease the feelings of pain
- Modulate the appetite
- Release sex hormones
- Enhance the immune response
11.-Helps achieve mindfulness
Cycling is proven by studies to have the same benefits as meditation.
- The constant pedaling and breathing free your mind of toxic thoughts.
- Improves your connection between mind and body.
- Help focus your attention and awareness in the present moment.
- It teaches you mindfulness
So if you’re feeling anxious or depressed hit the pedals and let those feelings eat the dust.
12.-Upgrades time and stress management
Cycling to work? Great idea!
Forget the stress of getting stuck in traffic. The eventual gas stop and finding a parking space. It is you, your legs, a bottle of water, your bike, and a lock.
And there is more…
A study with 200 people made by the University of Bristol demonstrated that doing exercise before work or during lunchtime will improve:
- Your time and workload management,
- Boost your motivation and stress management
They also found that employees who exercise:
- Felt their performance was better,
- Found easier to finish work in time
- Took fewer breaks
Benefits of cycling for the prevention and management of specific medical conditions
Indoor bike riding 3 times per week significantly reduces Parkinson’s symptoms according to a study published by Lancet Neurology.
Cycling regularly accompanied by a healthy diet will reduce the risk of having cardiovascular diseases because it strengthens your heart muscles, lowers the resting pulse, and reduces blood fat levels.
Sedentarism is thought to be a major reason for people developing this condition. Large research made in Finland found that people that cycle 30 minutes per day have 40 percent less risk of developing diabetes.
A study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise showed that cycling at a moderate pace for an hour allows overweight people with diabetes to halve their blood sugar levels in the next 24 hours. Even cycling faster for only half an hour can reduce levels for an entire day, but only by 19%.
Arthritis and bone injuries
Cycling is a low-impact exercise which makes it ideal if you suffer from osteoarthritis, it will also improve your balance, coordination, and strength, preventing falls and the fractures that come with them.
Cycling doesn’t directly help osteoporosis because it is not a weight-bearing exercise.
- If you have a medical condition get the green light and recommendations from your doctor
- Wear protective equipment (including sunglasses)
- Take a break if you are feeling fatigued
- Always respect the traffic rules
- Get your seat height right (your knees should bend slightly at the bottom of the pedal)
- Hydrate yourself before, during, and after.
The finish line
Cycling is a great sport with a lot of benefits and you can do it every day as it is a low-impact exercise. Here is a quick recap to keep those in mind:
- Decreases body fat levels
- Builds muscular strength
- Ameliorates lung health
- Improves digestion
- Strengthens the immune system
- Facilitates a better sleep
- Spices sex life
- Lengthens life expectancy and increases anti-aging benefits
- Improves grey matter
- Boosts your mood
- Helps achieve mindfulness
- Upgrades time and stress management
To avoid injuries and improve comfort don’t forget to perform a full bike fit.
And if you need some inspiration on where to go for a cycling trip check out our guide: The 7 best biking cities in the US!