We all understand that exercise is good for us. But this understanding is just the beginning of a lifelong mission; to reap the benefits of exercise, we need to do it, rather than just giving it some wistful thought.
What is Cycling Good For?
Suffice to say, we’re most likely to stick with a form of exercise that’s fun, practical, impressive, and effective. Happily, cycling satisfies these criteria. Let’s take a closer look at how cycling helps your body – and your brain, too!
Cycling for Mental Health
Let’s start with what many consider a fringe benefit of exercise in general: its positive effect on one’s mental health. Anxiety disorders
, which range in severity from the inconvenient to the crippling, can be battled with the help of an exercise program. The same is true of depression
and low self-esteem. This is so for physiological reasons, since exercise promotes the release of feel-good endorphins, but also rational reasons, too: if you’re cycling daily and you’ve lost weight as a result, you can rightly feel pleased with yourself. Add to that the fact that you can avoid sitting in traffic, or on a crowded tube, every day, and you’ve a recipe for vastly-improved mental health.
Cycling for Improved Cardiovascular Endurance
If you often find that you’re out of breath after ascending a flight of stairs, then cycling might provide the answer. By incrementally increasing the distance you travel, and the speed at which you do so, you’ll be able to bolster your lung capacity, and build up your heart muscle, allowing it to do more work in fewer beats.
It’s extremely easy to slot a short cycling session or two into each and every day – after all, we all need to travel to and from work. This provides an opportunity to build your endurance incrementally, shaving fractions off your time on each occasion, lowering your heartrate, and even taking a longer route just to add to the challenge. If you’re serious about bolstering your cardio capacity, then it’s worth investing in a miniature heart-rate monitor.
Cycling to Sleep Better
Have you ever been on your feet for an entire day, and then returned home feeling as though you might collapse? It’s not just you: even a tiny amount of exercise can help ensure you get to sleep – and that the sleep you enjoy is of a higher quality. You’ll also find yourself less prone to developing disorders like restless leg syndrome
, which are a menace to would-be sleepers.
Cycling Saves You Money
While you might look at some of the pricier bicycles and assume that the hobby is an expensive one, it’s worth also accounting for the amount of money you’ll save by saddling up. Even the shortest daily commute will quickly add up over the course of a year – and many non-cyclists end up spending hundreds, if not thousands of pounds annually on getting from A to B
. And then there’s the need for exercise – which is often met through expensive gym memberships (which you’ll have to drive to). Put into this context, the investment in cycling equipment seems shrewder.
Cycling for Weight Loss
One of the most oft-cited reasons for taking up cycling (or indeed, any form of exercise) is that it provides the opportunity for weight loss. We all tend to look and feel better when we aren’t carrying around excess subcutaneous fat – and that’s not even counting the deadlier visceral fat which sits around one’s internal organs. Regular cycling helps to keep fat under control in two key ways. Firstly, it’ll directly burn calories – which your body will create by breaking down excess fat. Secondly, it’ll build muscle
, which will in turn require calories to maintain itself.
Cycling to Make Friends
So far, we’ve explored the health benefits of using a bicycle to get from one place to another. But take things a little more seriously and you’ll be able to join in with an entire subculture of peddlers up and down the country. Unless you really live in the middle of nowhere, the chances are that cyclists meet nearby just about every weekend – whether they’re road-cyclists in search of a picturesque trip around country lanes, or off-roaders looking for something high-intensity in the nation’s forests.
Social interaction of this sort isn’t just a good thing in and of itself; it’ll also provide you with a valuable source of knowledge and instruction, as the chances are that you’ll encounter your share of grizzling veterans during your travels. When you suffer a puncture or some other problem, you’ll surely be grateful to have a posse of experts beside you. Moreover, the company of others might also have a positive effect on your mental health
, reinforcing the benefits we looked at earlier!
As with any form of exercise, you’re likely to push yourself a great deal further, and stick with it, when you’ve developed a healthy rivalry with someone close to your level. If you’re building up to a communal event, like a race, then so much more so – after all, no-one wants to risk embarrassment by making minimal progress while everyone else races ahead!
How Cycling Improves Health
As we’ve seen, there are myriad ways in which stepping into the saddle can help you to become fitter and healthier. Getting involved has never been easier, with discount vouchers for new equipment being widely available. If you’re already in the saddle and you know a friend or family member who might benefit from a cycling career, then why not present them with a Cycle Choice gift card
? They’ll be able to pick out the equipment they need, and start reaping the benefits of the activity right away!