Jump on your bike to look and feel younger, improve your sleep quality, and reduce stress.
by Tricia Foley
We all know that exercise is good for us, but did you know that cycling is one of the best ways we can enhance our mental, physical, and overall health? Riding a few times a week for just 30 minutes helps to build muscle strength, as well as improve your heart and lung functioning—not to mention the spectacular views you'll soak up along the way.
If you're still not convinced that cycling is one of the greatest sports around, take a look at the numerous health benefits below.
1. Weight loss: Not only does cycling help burn calories (up to 700 per hour, depending on the intensity) and fat, it helps build muscle, too. More muscle leads to an increased resting metabolic rate, which will give you more energy to shed the pounds. Plus, improved muscle function will give your body that all over toned look, on top of making you physically stronger—which will keep you in the saddle for longer. If you’re the type of athlete who likes to race, this is a very good thing.
2. Stress relief: Research has shown that exercise reduces stress levels, and cycling is no exception. Go for a quick ride, or start using your bike to commute to work and experience the perks of exercise-induced endorphins.
3. Heal your heart: Cycling is known to reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 50 percent, and according to the World Heart Federation, 17.3 million deaths a year are due to cardiovascular disease. Kick up your next ride to keep the blood pumping to your healthy heart.
4. Sleep soundly: Even when you're feeling too tired to ride, saddling up could be just the fix you need. Incorporating cycling into your daily routine supports a healthier sleep pattern than those who pass on regular physical activity. Cycling also helps rid your body of the stress hormone cortisol, which can prevent us from reaching a deep, regenerative sleep. You may become a victim of sleep deprivation during weeks you are unable to cycle, so stay on top of that training schedule and sleep like a baby.
5. Preserve your youth: Put your helmet on, get on your bike, and reap the benefits of feeling like a kid again—with your sunscreen on, of course. Cycling regularly can help reduce the signs of aging by increasing the circulation of oxygen and nutrients to skin cells—all while flushing out the harmful toxins in your system and improving collagen production for a younger looking appearance.
6. Healthy bowel movements: Increased physical activity contributes to a highly functioning digestive system which can help regulate your bowel movements and reduce feelings of bloating. So what are you waiting for? Boost your bowels on the bike.
7. Pedal for brain power: Studies show that hopping on your bike aids in building new brain cells in the hippocampus—the area of the brain that functions as a memory gateway. The hippocampus begins to deteriorate as early as age 30, so start pedaling to improve memory function and prevent brain debilitating diseases.
8. Boost immune health: Going for a spin positively activates immune cells, which helps you to fight off infection. This equals less sick days, which means more time for adventures. Additionally, research shows that women who cycle often can reduce their risk of breast cancer by 34 percent.
9. Jump start your sex drive: Jump on your bike to rev up your sex drive. That's right, cycling improves your vascular health which in turn boosts your sex drive by increasing your stamina and sends endorphins to your brain that stimulate the release of sex hormones like dopamine. It's a two-for-one on physical activities that burn calories and provide the release of serotonin—the technical term for happy hormones.
10. Go the distance: Cycling is an activity you can do well into your elder years. As you age, weight-lifting and running can become too taxing on your joints, but cycling can help you stay active at any age without burning out. The mix of aerobic and anaerobic exercise can also help you live longer. You're in this for the long-haul—enjoy it with a VELOTHON race.