Cycling is a fantastic way to get some cardiovascular exercise while also getting around. In fact, it benefits your whole body:
As with any physical activity that gets your heart rate pumping faster than usual, cycling is good for your cardiovascular system. Cycling for just 30 minutes a day can vastly improve this system and reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease and hypertension. Cycling can also help improve health in those already suffering from these types of problems, although if you have a health problem you should consult your doctor before starting any type of exercise.
Cycling instead of driving or taking the bus means that you breathe in fewer fumes and noxious gases. This may seem counterintuitive, but is probably due to the fact that cyclists are usually at the edge of the road, and so are not in the direct line of exhaust smoke.
Cycling is a low-impact activity and works your body without pounding on your knees, ankles or feet, which can cause injury. It can also be good for when you’re recovering from an illness, particularly if you have a running-related injury that you don’t want to agitate.
If you want to tone up your legs, abdominals and waist, then cycling is ideal. When you ride a bike, you are using not just your leg muscles but also those in your bottom, hips, arms, chest and abdominals. Cycling up hills can be even more beneficial than on flat surfaces, and to increase the amount you’re working your abs, suck your tummy muscles in when you cycle. This will help improve your core muscles.
Cycling has been linked to improved concentration, better memory function, a reduction in anxiety, stress and depression and increased feelings of wellbeing and contentment.
Studies have shown that those who cycle are half as likely to take sick days than those who do no exercise, suggesting that cycling improves immune function. Also, if you cycle to work as opposed to going on public transport, you’re less exposed to germs. And as you feel less stressed and better in general when you cycle, you should be less susceptible to infection.
As with all types of physical exercise, another cycling health benefit is that riding a bike during the day can help you sleep better at night. Exercise has been linked to a decrease in insomnia, and those who exercise report higher quality sleep and feel more rested when they wake up.