Before you can sustainably fit exercise in your lifestyle, you need to find exercise you enjoy.
Lots of people find joy in cycling, especially during the warmer months of the year. But biking not only benefits your health, it benefits other areas of your life as well. It can even help you improve your environment and finances.
We asked fitness expert Elaine Moen, health coach, Ayurvedic practitioner, and Arootah Director of Wellness, to share her favorite benefits of riding a bike. So if you’re looking for a sustainable, low-impact way to exercise and enjoy the great outdoors, read on!
The Top 10 Benefits of Cycling
As with any form of exercise, it may take you a while to see if you really like it and if it works in terms of your body, routine, and lifestyle. Before deciding to hang up your helmet, however, give cycling a try for several weeks to see how you like it.
Within that trial period, you may find yourself reaping the many health benefits of cycling:
1. Helps strengthen muscles
Cycling can help strengthen a variety of muscles in your body. You engage your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and core when cycling, especially when you stand out of the saddle. Keeping your core engaged can also take some pressure off your lower body if that’s a concern for you.
2. Improves cardiovascular health
Cycling benefits your cardiovascular health. By keeping a healthy cardiovascular system, you can decrease your risk of stroke, heart attack, and high blood pressure.
If you’re dedicated to cycling, you may start to see the benefits of this lifestyle in the form of a lower resting heart rate, as well as lower blood fat levels.
3. Aids mental health and increases brain power
Exercise, such as cycling, releases endorphins into your body. If your brain releases endorphins on a regular basis, it can help you manage and reduce stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Over time, managing stress can boost your mental health and increase cognitive power.
4. Helps improve health issues
Having a sedentary lifestyle can put you at severe risk for diseases and other health issues. Adding cycling into your routine can help reduce that risk.
Many people who cycle reduce their risk for diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.
5. Low stress on your joints
Cycling is a great option if you want a low-impact form of exercise. Since the body has less impact with the pavement than it does in comparison to running or other cardio activities, your joints will be able to tolerate a lot more activity without strain. This tolerance means you’ll be able to go further and exercise longer on a bike.
6. Helps regulate blood pressure
In general, any form of exercise will improve blood pressure, but you shouldn’t overlook the impact of cycling on your cardiovascular health. Aerobic exercise is often able to reduce blood pressure equally or better than some medications.
7. Improves your coordination and balance
If you spend time cycling, you may find that your coordination and balance in your everyday life improve as well. Since cycling requires that you stay upright and keep the bike balanced, your brain and muscles will be more trained to do the same, even when you’re not cycling.
You may find that your posture improves as well, since you are also strengthening that set of muscles as well.
8. Helps you beat the heat
Cycling won’t put quite the strain on your body that running does, which is important for many people who feel overwhelmed by the summer swelter. But, no matter what the weather is, it’s important not to overwork yourself, so make sure you know your limits and stay hydrated.
If it’s still too hot for you, you can always cycle indoors on a stationary bike. By using one at your gym, buying your own, or taking spin classes, you can push yourself during your cardio workouts without overheating outside.
9. Cycling is a great way to explore a city, neighborhood, or park.
Taking your bike around a new area can be a fun way to learn about your city in a new way. Because cycling is much faster than running, but slower than driving, you’ll be able to appreciate more of the outdoors at a reasonable pace.
Not to mention, you’ll save money on gas, reduce your carbon footprint, and improve your health.
10. When you bike, you don’t have to worry about parking or tickets
Simply getting a bike lock can keep you from paying lofty parking fees around your city or neighborhood. If you can, ride your bike to work, to explore the city, and to meet new friends. This way, you can benefit from the exercise, save money on parking, and improve the environment all at once.
How to Get Into a Cycling Routine
If you want to start cycling, try following these tips to start off on the right foot.
- Start slow: Don’t commit to 20 miles right off the bat. Take it slowly on easy terrain and build up.
- Take safety precautions: Always wear a helmet, follow traffic laws, and learn bike signals for left and right turns and stopping. Stay alert at all times, especially if you’re sharing the road with cars.
- Get your bike tuned up: If you already have a bike, take it to a professional to make sure it’s in good condition and properly adjusted for your height.
- Don’t put too much pressure on the forearms: Some people grip the handlebars too much and end up with sore forearms. Remember to keep your core engaged.
The Bottom Line
Cycling for health comes with a host of benefits that offer you a sustainable, low-impact way to get exercise.
All in all, cycling is a great option for people who want an easy, sustainable way to stay active. Many people find that, once they build cycling into their lifestyle, it’s easy to stay on top of their exercise plan.
Want to create healthier habits? An Arootah coach can support you in making positive changes by identifying your challenges and helping you address them through self-accountability.