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Health Benefits of Recreational Cycling

Regular physical activity assists the body in fending off serious issues such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, diabetes and arthritis. A sedentary lifestyle is a precursor to many of these issues and recreational cycling is just the ticket to reduce the risks associated with inactivity. Cycling is an easy, low impact exercise to literally change your life. It’s also fun, good for the environment and inexpensive. Why wouldn’t you take up cycling?

Cycling can be transitioned into your weekly routine quite easily. You can ride a bicycle to work, use one for transport to shopping or simply get together with friends and family for a social ride. As cycling can be enjoyed by people of all ages, it can be a pursuit to be enjoyed throughout life.

Research states that it only takes 2-4 hours per week to achieve a general benefit to your personal health. By choosing to cycle you will discover that this form of exercise is:

  • Easy – unlike some other sports, cycling does not require high levels of physical skill. Once you learn to ride a bike, you don’t forget.
  • A fun way to get fit – you can go on your own adventure or cruise around with friends and being outdoors means you are more likely to continue to cycle regularly, compared to other physical activities that keep you indoors or require special times or places.
  • Low impact – it causes less strain and injuries than most other forms of exercise.
  • A good muscle workout – cycling uses all of the major muscle groups as you pedal.
  • Good for strength and stamina – cycling increases stamina, strength and aerobic fitness.
  • As intense as you want – low intensity to a demanding physical workout.
  • Time-efficient – as a mode of transport, cycling replaces sedentary (sitting) time spent driving motor vehicles with healthy exercise.

Through cycling one will benefit from an aerobic workout meaning that the heart, blood vessels and lungs will all be challenged as you ride. The health benefits of regular cycling include:

  • increased cardiovascular fitness
  • increased muscle strength and flexibility
  • improved joint mobility
  • decreased stress levels
  • improved posture and coordination
  • strengthened bones
  • decreased body fat levels
  • prevention or management of disease
  • reduced anxiety and depression.

Cycling is a great way to improve one’s overall physical and mental health and can reduce the chances of experiencing many health issues:

1. Obesity and weight control

Cycling is a good way to control or reduce weight, as it raises your metabolic rate, builds muscle and burns body fat. If you’re trying to lose weight, cycling must be combined with a healthy eating plan. Cycling is a comfortable form of exercise and you can change the time and intensity – it can be built up slowly and varied to suit you. Research suggests you should be burning at least 2,000 calories a week through exercise. Steady cycling burns about 300 calories per hour. If you cycle twice a day, the calories burned soon add up. Research has shown that a half-hour bike ride every day will burn nearly five kilograms of fat over a year.

2. Cardiovascular disease and cycling

Cardiovascular 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.

3. Cancer and cycling

Many researchers have studied the relationship between exercise and cancer, especially colon and breast cancer. Research has shown that if you cycle, the chance of bowel cancer is reduced. Some evidence suggests that regular cycling reduces the risk of breast cancer.

4. Diabetes and cycling
The rate of type 2 diabetes is increasing and is a serious public health concern. Lack of physical activity is thought to be a major reason why people develop this condition. Large-scale research in Finland found that people who cycled for more than 30 minutes per day had a 40 per cent lower risk of developing diabetes.

5. Bone injuries, arthritis and cycling

Cycling improves strength, balance and coordination. It may also help to prevent falls and fractures. Riding a bike is an ideal form of exercise if you have osteoarthritis, because it is a low-impact exercise that places little stress on joints. Cycling, however, does not specifically help osteoporosis (bone-thinning disease) because it is not a weight-bearing exercise.

6. Mental illness and cycling

Mental health conditions such as depression, stress and anxiety can be reduced by regular bike riding. This is due to the effects of the exercise itself and because of the enjoyment that riding a bike can bring.

To have fun while reaping the benefits of recreational cycling you do not need to look like you are training for the Tour de France. There is no need for specialist clothing, a high end bicycle or multiple hours dedicated to ‘bike’ time. A great start is just to get moving. Explore your neighbourhood, take a bicycle away with you on a road trip and invite your friends to join you on social rides. You will soon find out what you enjoy and what you don’t and you can then build upon the enjoyable activities. The point is to get moving and to create space for having fun on your bike. The health benefits will soon follow.


Enjoy the Ride!

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