Whether it be for a deeper slumber or a reduction in the risk of chronic diseases, cycling offers a multitude of benefits. From fresh air to the exploration of new routes, there is much to love about cycling. It also comes with a list of health advantages that make riding your bike an excellent workout.
Cycling improves aerobic capacity (without putting stress on the joints)
Cardiovascular or aerobic activity is an important element of physical fitness. The World Health Organization recommends that anyone over the age of 18 engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular activity per week (or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardiovascular activity), stating that higher intensity activity is associated with greater long-term health benefits.
Cycling, regardless of its intensity, is a means of incorporating this type of movement. And if you have hip, knee, or ankle joint issues, or if you simply want to prevent them in the future, cycling is an excellent choice. Cycling is considered a low-impact sport, meaning it puts less pressure on the joints of the lower extremities. With proper bike setup, cycling can challenge a person's entire system without placing excessive stress or unfavorable forces on the joints.
Cycling strengthens the core
When we think of cycling, we may think of cardio exercises and not strength training. However, outdoor cycling, in particular, can significantly engage the abdominal muscles and strengthen core stability, as you have to maintain balance on the bike. This is especially true on rugged terrains where you often have to change direction to avoid obstacles.
Balancing the body's center of mass on moving wheels requires the engagement of numerous muscles in the lower back, abdomen, and hips. Even slight changes in direction can work these muscles. And a stronger core can have a profound training effect on your health. A stronger core not only reduces the risk of back pain but also helps prevent tension headaches and decreases in energy, as you are better aligned throughout the day. With greater strength and stability in the core, you are more efficient in your movements, regardless of the activity you engage in.
Cycling can improve bone health
High-impact activities such as jumping and running create stress on the body that can improve bone density, which is an important aspect of healthy aging. But just because you prefer cycling doesn't mean you're missing out, especially if you engage in off-road cycling.
One study, for example, found that mountain biking can create sufficient ground impact to benefit bone strength. Additionally, it requires the engagement of upper body muscles to maintain stability, and the combination of these factors could improve overall bone structure, as noted by researchers in the study.
A bike ride can help you sleep
If you have trouble sleeping, a bike ride in the early evening could help. While the analysis focused on various types of aerobic exercises, cycling seems to be the most beneficial. The end of a bike ride about two hours before bedtime appears to be the ideal time.
We don't exactly know why cycling is so dominant in this area. However, we do know that exercises like cycling rapidly increase core body temperature, which prompts the body to balance the heat surge with cooling mechanisms. This tends to create more effective temperature regulation, which translates to bedtime and can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep better as a result.
Cycling is good for cardiovascular health
Cycling, like other types of aerobic exercises, beneficially engages the heart, lungs, and muscular system. This stimulates cardiovascular function, including the improvement of heart health, lung capacity, and overall muscular endurance. Regular cycling can help reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, and improve overall cardiovascular fitness.