Right now it’s pretty exciting in the cycling world – we’re in the midst of Tour de France and then it’s next stop Rio, when our road, track, MTB and BMX riders will be chasing medals. Meanwhile, the end of July sees London and Surrey roads closed down for Prudential RideLondon, a fantastic three day festival of cycling for tens of thousands of people to enjoy. This year, as well as the 100-mile mass participation event, there is a 46-mile sportive for newer cyclists and younger riders – it illustrates perfectly just how many people have discovered a love of cycling.
So what is it that makes us all keep pedaling? The happy buzz you get after a really good ride can last for days, the feeling of getting fitter and stronger is fantastic, but do you know just how much good you’re doing for yourself by getting on your bike? Well check this out:
- It’s low impact exercise, so you’re less likely to suffer strains and injuries, yet you’re working all the major muscle groups.
- Cycling is good for stamina, general strength and aerobic fitness.
- Aerobic exercise improves digestion and reduces the risk of bowel cancer.
- It raises your metabolic rate, builds muscle and burns body fat, so cycling is a good activity if you’re trying to lose weight.
- Cycling stimulates your heart, lungs and circulation, which in turn reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, including stroke, heart attack and high blood pressure.
- Improved circulation improves the condition of your skin, with oxygen and nutrients delivered to skin cells more effectively and toxins flushed out. And keeping all of your body cells in better condition helps to reduce the risk of cancer generally.
- Similarly, increased oxygen and blood flow to the brain helps build new brain cells in the hippocampus, the part that is responsible for memory.
- Cycling improves your immune system so you will be less susceptible to illness.
- Assuming you’re not spending all your time in spin classes or on a turbo trainer, cycling is likely to improve the quality of sleep. Research has proven that insomniacs who took up cycling fell asleep quicker and then slept for longer – this is thanks to exposure to daylight, which helps to set your body clock and the physical activity gets rid of cortisol, a stress hormone that can prevent sleep.
- Not only is cycling good for physical fitness, it has a way of taking care of the head, too. Regular cycling can reduce stress and anxiety – partly through the effects of the physical exercise, but also because it’s an enjoyable activity. Don’t you feel happier and healthier after a fix of Bike?! Cycling releases natural endorphins that make you feel happier – if you’re ever prone to depression, exercise is excellent therapy.
- The mental headspace you create during a ride – away from the usual pressures of normal life – does you good. Aerobic exercise improves creative thinking, so you may find yourself pedaling along and suddenly able to make a decision or crack a problem you’ve had at work.