Fitness: 5 Health Benefits of Cycling

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A family is going on a bike ride through the woods while on summer vacation.

Most of us may view cycling as a phase in life that we went through during our childhood. Once we outgrow our bicycles, we set them aside. However, it’s more than a fun activity – it is very healthy and beneficial to the cyclist. Everyone should cycle at any age be it outdoors on roads, streets, all terrains or indoors on spin bikes at home and in gyms. You can even turn into a family bonding session. This way you stay healthy and promote your relationships with your family.

Family riding bikes. Image from https://ggwash.org/view/63164/for-people-of-color-barriers-to-riding-a-bike-go-far-beyond-infrastructure

Apart from helping with bonding it also has other benefits for you.

Weight Management

Basically, cycling does 3 things for your weight: Burns fat increases muscle weight and increases bone mass. This means that you shed off excess and unhealthy weight and put on healthy weight. Cycling burns off calories. Steady cycling for an hour burns 300 calories. Cycling expends energy. The pedalling increases your metabolic rate. Energy comes from fuel. Fat is a good source of fuel. Your body will start there thus you lose weight.

However, cycling alone won’t help to effectively and healthily manage your weight. Watch your diet too. If you don’t eat well and continue exercising, your body will still need calories and will burn deep into your fat reserves. Once it depletes them, it will start on your muscles. Your body will look to your proteins for calories. Yes, your body will turn your muscles into fuel. That’s not good.

 

A family is going on a bike ride through the woods. Image from https://www.skincancer.org/prevention/skin-cancer-and-skin-of-color

Promotes heart health

With cycling, all the pedalling and physical activity increases your heart and breathing rate. You pump more blood faster and breathe deeper. This improves blood circulation in your body. In addition, it strengthens the heart and lung muscles. Consequently, it lowers your pulse at rest and reduces your blood’s fat levels. You are thus protected from the vast array of cardiovascular complications from high blood pressure, heart attacks to stroke.

In addition, cycling promotes healing. With the increased circulation, more nutrients and spread further through the body, and especially to injury sites. These locations receive more blood that is rich in oxygen and nutrients, consequently promoting the healing process.

Boosts Immunity and Prevents Cancer

As cycling improves the functioning of your cardiovascular system, it improves the immune system and also goes further to reduce the risks of cancer. It even benefits your bowels! Cycling reduces the time food takes to go through your large intestines. In effect, it reduces the amount of water reabsorbed back into your body.

Consequently, it means you’ll have a softer stool that is easier to pass. In addition, cycling stimulates the contractions of the small intestines. (This comes with increased breathing and heart rates). This does two things. For one, it prevents you from getting that bloated feeling. But more importantly, it assists in protecting you from bowel cancer.

Improves bone health

First off, riding a bike adds to your strength and sense of balance and coordination. When you’re moving your feet around in circles and steering with both your hands and body weight, trust me, you’ll develop your coordination skills. In addition to increasing your bone mass, it enables you to prevent future falls and fractures.

Boosts mental health

Riding to work puts your brain at peak activity for hours. Your brain is the ‘Command and Control’ centre of your body. Cycling, being an exercise, makes more blood pumps into your brain. This blood is rich in oxygen and nutrients. You are basically fertilizing your grey matter. But wait, there’s more.

Pedalling jump starts more nerve cells. This increases the production of BDNF- (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor) and some more compounds. These increase new brain cell formation…i.e., you’ll get more and more brain cells. With more cells comes greater mental power and enhanced mental functioning. Imagine what this would mean if you got your kid to start cycling from a very young age.

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