Driving back and forth from work is the norm for most people. However, each minute you spend in the same position adds up and may affect your health negatively. That’s why cycling is a great alternative to ensure you get to work on time but stay active, thus promoting physical and mental health well-being. It’s also a great way to keep fit when you have no time to go to the gym. Learn more about the benefits of cycling!
What is cycling?
Cycling is a form of aerobic exercise that gets your lungs, heart, and blood vessels worked up.
While most people cycle for fun and in their free time, you may use cycling as a mode of transport to and from work. Add a basket to your bike, and you can bike to run errands as well!
This will offer you a convenient way to replace sedentary sitting, which can increase your risk of serious health conditions like heart attack, stroke, diabetes, depression, obesity, arthritis, and some cancers.
It’s also an easy, low-impact exercise that builds strength and stamina. Besides, it’s a flexible activity that only gets as intense as you want it to be.
Health Benefits of Cycling
There are many benefits to all sorts of exercise, but here is why getting on your bike is a good choice specifically.
1. Reduces the risk of heart disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, especially because of the rampant sedentary lifestyle. That’s why any slight activity that may lower its risk is worth engaging in.
Cycling to work can help you break the sedentary cycle, promote heart health, lower your risk of cardiovascular conditions, and promote general health and fitness.
Regular cycling strengthens your heart muscles, reduces fat levels in the blood, and lowers your resting heart pulse. This helps promote smooth blood circulation throughout the body and within the heart.
A Danish study conducted over 14 years found that cycling to work offered protection against heart disease and reduced the risk of overall mortality by 40 percent.
2. Helps with weight loss
Your body uses energy to cycle. So the more and faster you cycle, the more calories you burn, and the more weight you’re likely to lose. But if cycling to work, you don’t want to go too intense as you wouldn’t want to show up at work drenched in sweat.
Steady, moderate cycling is enough to help you lose up to 300 calories in 60 minutes. Research shows that someone weighing 155 pounds can burn up to 298 calories cycling for 30 minutes at a pace of 12-13.9 miles per hour. At a faster rate of 14-15.09 miles per hour, this individual can burn up to 372 calories in just 30 minutes.
While it’s okay to maintain a moderate pace when cycling to work, you can try increasing the speed on your way home to promote more fat loss.
3. Cancer prevention
Many studies show a link between exercise and cancer prevention, and cycling is one of those exercises that can lower your risk of cancer, especially bowel and breast cancer.
In one study, women who commuted, walked, or cycled to work for 30 minutes or more every day recorded a reduced risk of developing breast cancer than those working from home, unemployed, or driving to work.
Research also shows that staying active may help lower the effects associated with cancer treatment and enhance better life quality.
4. Increases muscle strength and flexibility
Muscle strength is the ability of a muscle to produce force against an external resistance, while muscle flexibility is the ability of a muscle to move freely and without restriction.
Increasing muscle strength and flexibility can have many benefits, including reducing pain, preventing injury, and improving performance.
How cycling can promote your muscle strength
Upper-body strength: Cycling can help you build upper-body strength, especially if you cycle regularly for 30 minutes or more per session. This type of strength is important for tasks such as climbing stairs or carrying groceries.
Core strength: Cycling can also help you improve your core muscles, which include your abdominal muscles and lower back muscles. This is important because core muscles support your body in many different ways, including during activities such as standing up from a seated position or when cycling.
Lower-body strength: Cycling can help you build lower-body strength, especially if you cycle regularly for 30 minutes or more per session. This type of strength is important for tasks such as walking and running.
How cycling works in promoting muscle flexibility
Muscle flexibility is important for overall health and well-being, as it allows muscles to work more efficiently and effectively. It also helps reduce the risk of injury.
There are many ways cycling can increase muscle flexibility. One of the most common ways is by improving muscle tone. Tone refers to the strength and size of muscles. When muscles are properly toned, they are able to contract more powerfully and evenly, which leads to better movement and flexibility. Cycling also increases blood flow to the muscles, which helps them grow stronger and more flexible.
Overall, cycling has many benefits for increasing muscle flexibility and tone. It can help you stay healthy and mobile, plus it’s a great way to get fit!
5. It helps to lower cholesterol
Cycling is a safe and effective form of exercise that can help you lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, commuting to work by bicycle reduced cholesterol levels compared to those who didn’t.
Another study found that cycling regularly reduced the risk of heart attacks by 11-18 percent in adults between 50-65 years.
6. It’s good for your mental health
Like any other aerobic exercise, cycling helps ease depression, stress, and anxiety. One study found that cycling improved cognitive function and well-being in older adults.
Besides, cycling promotes the release of endorphins, natural chemicals that help the body cope with stress, improve mood, and increase dopamine production.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls the flow of information, including memory, problem-solving, and attention.
7. It improves balance, coordination, and posture
Most people develop poor posture, mainly due to poor sitting positions all day long. However, cycling is a great way to keep your balance and coordination. It is also great for improving posture and reducing stress on your spine.
When you are cycling, you are constantly moving your body in all directions, which helps improve your balance and flexibility. Additionally, cycling can help improve your posture because it strengthens your core muscles and helps you maintain a level of stability in your back.
8. Gives you energy throughout the day
Cycling is a great way to increase your energy levels, not only because of the cardio workout it provides, but also because it reduces stress and allows you to clear your head. Not only that, but cycling also releases endorphins, which are hormones that can improve mood and relieve pain. So if you’re looking for a healthy way to boost your energy levels, cycling is the perfect solution!
9. It’s a mood enhancer
The benefits of cycling for physical health are well documented. Cycling can improve cardiovascular health, increase strength and flexibility, and reduce the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. However, there is growing evidence that cycling also has mood-boosting properties. In a recent study published in researchers found that regular cyclists had lower levels of cortisol, a hormone that can increase stress levels.
The study participants were asked to complete questionnaires measuring their moods before and after they completed an hour-long bicycle ride. The results showed that cyclists’ moods improved following the ride even if they didn’t experience any significant changes in heart rate or blood pressure. The benefits of cycling are due to the release of endorphins, which are hormones that have pain-relieving and euphoric effects.
Also, when cycling regularly, you’ll experience an overall sense of calm and contentment that can help counterbalance any stress you might feel during your day. Researchers have found that even as little as one 30-minute ride per week can significantly reduce symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.
Besides, the fresh air that cycling provides can help clear your head and help you relax.
10. Improves creativity
Cycling has been shown to promote creativity. Researchers at the University of Illinois found that cyclists who exercised had increased brain waves in regions associated with creativity and spatial reasoning. The study participants were asked to complete creative tasks such as generating new solutions to puzzles after cycling for 30 minutes. The researchers found that the cyclists’ brains had increased activity in areas associated with creativity and spatial reasoning.
This finding supports other studies that have shown a link between cycling and improved cognitive function. Cycling has been shown to improve mental alertness and focus, as well as memory and learning abilities. Additionally, cycling has been shown to reduce stress levels and improve overall moods. These benefits are likely due to the cardiovascular benefits of cycling, which include increased blood flow and oxygenation to the brain.
That’s to say, cycling promotes creativity by increasing brain waves in regions associated with creativity and spatial reasoning. This benefit is likely due to the cardiovascular benefits of cycling, which include increased blood flow and oxygenation to the brain. So if you’re looking for a way to boost your cognitive abilities, consider adding some cycling into your routine!
11. Reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes
There are many health benefits associated with cycling, and one of the most significant is that it reduces your risk of developing diabetes. A study published in the journal of Diabetes Care found that people who cycled at least 30 minutes a day had a 41% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who didn’t cycle. This could be due to increased insulin sensitivity and weight loss associated with cycling.
According to a study published in the journal Preventive Medicine, people who bike are less likely to be obese than those who don’t. Even after controlling other factors associated with type 2 diabetes, like losing eating right, cycling was shown to be top in reducing the risk by up to 31 percent.
Cons of cycling:
Just like any means of transport, cycling may have its disadvantages.
This may include:
- Exposure to the elements of weather such as heat, humidity, and rain
- Unexpected expenses such as a bell or horn, helmet, high visibility clothing, lights, and a lock. Regular maintenance may also add to the expenses
- Dangerous drivers
- Road hazards like stones, holes, or oil spills that are otherwise not dangerous to vehicles can be disastrous for cyclists.
- Poor lights may make it harder to see and be seen by motorists
- Lack of back trails and lanes
- Limited travel distance
Final thoughts on the benefits of cycling:
Cycling to work is a fun and easy way to stay healthy, especially when under a tight schedule and have no time to exercise.
It can help you stay physically fit, increase your strength and flexibility, lower cholesterol, improve mental health, promote cardiovascular health, and maintain good balance and posture.
But remember to exercise caution whenever necessary, especially on busy streets, and for the most part, those without bicycle lanes.
Also, obey the weather. If the weather is not favorable for cycling, go back to using your car, but you should get back on cycling as soon as the weather is good enough.
And, of course, ensure you have all the protective gear to ensure maximum safety.
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