Someone said, “you can’t be sad while riding a bicycle.”
This statement is actually backed by science as you will find out later in the article.
For many individuals, cycling is a casual activity or a means of transport. However, cycling is also profoundly beneficial to your mind, body and soul.
So, how exactly does cycling help?
Cycling and Weight Loss
Losing weight is not fun for most people. Depending on how much you aspire to lose, you may have to go on a strict diet and take on intense physical exercises. But what if there was a better way of doing it? Bike riding is an effective and fun weight loss strategy.
Cycling for one hour at a moderate speed burns 400 to 600 calories. The exact number of calories depends on a few factors such as your weight and gender. You can always increase the number by doing intense and mixed exercises.
Overweight people are not the only ones that can benefit from this.
Cycling for one hour at a moderate speed burns 400 to 600 calories.
If you are comfortable with your weight (and your doctor agrees) you need to keep things the same. Cycling will make you sweat a little every day and help you maintain your lean frame.
Obesity is increasingly becoming a menace in the United States and all over the world. It has been linked to the rising cases of type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, coronary diseases and other chronic conditions.
Finding the time to exercise may sound like a fantasy. But, if you opt for cycling, you will always find a way. You have a wide range of options. You can cycle to work when life gets too busy or cycle indoors on a stationary bike when the weather is unfriendly.
Cycling and Aging
Most people want to live long but nobody wants to look old or feel old.
While living a long life is good, the human body undergoes some changes that are not quite pleasant. The immune system becomes weaker, muscle strength and mass depreciate and inflammation occurs.
A number of studies have been conducted to determine whether physical activity contributes to successful aging. That is, aging without the many problems that typically come with it.
It is important to note that cycling will not make you look 16 when you are 90. Honestly, there is not much you can do to make that happen. However, if you incorporate cycling into your lifestyle, you will be one of the few lucky people that age like fine wine. You will be healthier—even better, you will look and feel healthy.
According to this study, cycling as a physical activity enhances the immune system. As you get older, your T-cells (which are immune cells) start to depreciate. This process begins as early as in your twenties. The research showed that older cyclists had higher levels of T cells (and a stronger immune system) compared to those who did not exercise.
This other study conducted in Sydney, Australia showed that physically active adults (49+ years of age) had twice the likelihood of aging successfully. The healthiest subjects engaged in activities that were equal to cycling moderately for one and a half hours per day, seven days a week. Their risk of suffering disability, heart diseases, cancer, respiratory issues and depression was cut by half.
How motivated are you to get on that saddle now?
Also read: How many Miles should I Bike a day?
Cycling and Mental Wellness
Does cycling make you happier?
The internet is saturated with tips and “secrets” on how to be happy. This is something that people are hungry and even desperate for. Life can be stressful and bad days are inevitable.
The solution? Ride your bike to have less bad days.
It is proven that physical exercise helps with stress management. One health journal reported that people remained in a good mood for the rest of the day when they cycled to work. These people also felt better generally.
There is no way to eliminate stress completely. This is not exactly bad news because it only becomes a problem when it is not managed. In life, there is so much to do and not enough time to do it.
On some days, you find yourself completely drained, unable to focus and just going on about life like a zombie.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), physical exercise is the best way to manage stress. When you exercise (for instance, ride 30 minutes a day on your bike trainer), your brain produces endorphins. These chemicals are natural painkillers. They relieve you of tension, make you alert, brighten your mood and boost your energy levels.
One interesting study sought to prove that aerobic exercises such as bike riding grow your brain just as they do your muscles. Mind-blowing, right? (The subjects were rats, but still…) There is a section of your brain known as the hippocampus. It is responsible for memory and learning.
When you ride your bike religiously, the brain literally produces more proteins to create extra brain cells. The amount of oxygen and nutrients transferred to the brain also increases. As a result, you will be able to learn more, plan better and lead an organized life.
c. Anxiety and Depression
Mental illness is a huge problem in today’s society. Each day, you hear or read stories of people who couldn’t take it anymore. (Reminder: choose to be kind to people, today and every day).
In the quest to find a solution, it has been discovered that physical activity can act as an anti-depressant and reduce anxiety.
To find out the relation between clinical depression and physical activity, experts decided to carry out this research. Over the course of eight years, people who did not exercise were at a higher risk of developing depression. Those that exercised moderately or a lot cut this risk by half.
The same conclusion was made for anxiety.
Engaging in aerobic exercises reduces generalized anxiety. It may also cause anxiety sensitivity to decrease.
Even more convincing is this real life story of a cyclist who found a way to fight depression and anxiety. He tried therapy and medication—both of them offered him help. However, cycling gave him something more special and long-lasting.
How you view yourself is more important than you think. People with high self-esteem tend to believe in themselves and their abilities. Consequently, they are more productive. If you have low self-esteem, on the other hand, you are likely to live a less fulfilling life.
This analysis proves that physical exercise does improve how you rate yourself. It also shows that you do not have to be a training junkie to enjoy this benefit. All you need is to get off your couch. So if you are feeling lowly about yourself, hop on your bike and ride around the block.
Sadly, sleep is a luxury for a good number of people today. When someone is not getting enough sleep, it is either because they think they do not have the time or they cannot seem to get any even when they force themselves.
The average adult requires 7 to 9 hours of sleep. And no, lying in bed while on your phone does not count. You should be peacefully passed out.
Bicycling, as discussed above, reduces stress—which is the biggest cause of sleeplessness. As a matter of fact, most of the mental problems discussed above contribute largely to sleep issues. Since bike riding has proven to help with all of them, you will have better chances of sleeping soundly.
Cycling and Fitness
Being average is never the goal. In addition to the perfect weight, successful aging and mental wellness, it is okay to want more. Do not just live; thrive!
It is recommended that every adult put in at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. For children, 60 minutes is ideal. There is no better way to keep your entire family fit than through cycling. Everyone can do it.
Here is why.
Bicycling is considered a low impact exercise. Unlike other activities such as running, it is not a weight-bearing activity. Your muscles are less likely to strain. The occurrence of cycling-related injuries is also quite rare. For this reason, it is suitable for people with arthritis and other joint problems.
Cycling as a physical activity works all the muscles in your body, especially if you learn to do it right. Contrary to popular belief, it does not benefit the thighs and calves only. Your core is engaged in balancing and so is the rest of your upper body.
With everything that is going on, it is easy to forget the thing that matters most— your health. Having dependents and too much to do can consume your life. You should always remember to take care of yourself.
Bicycling is one of the best physical exercises—and not just because it is fun. It will help you age successfully. Long life can be a pain when your body is failing and you are miserable. Cycle more so you can enjoy extra years filled with happiness. Your mind will be at peace, you will be fit and in good shape even in your golden years. This is the best gift that you can give to yourself and your loved ones.
Be motivated. Find a reason to get on that bike every day and put in some effort. It will pay off.