In the United States alone, the cycling industry grew an unprecedented 75% in the first quarter of 2020. All over the world a similar thing is occurring, with a growing number of commuters switching to pedal power amid a transportation shortage. Besides transportation however, people are also taking up cycling for fitness.
It’s no mystery as to why as it offers a number of benefits that can greatly enhance even the simplest of fitness routines. Here are 5 reasons why cycling will complement your fitness routine.
1. Great Option For Cardio
First and foremost, cycling is a fantastic way to do cardio and burn some excess fat. At a moderate pace, cycling burns more than 500 calories per hour. Depending on your intensity level, you can build up a considerable amount of cardiovascular endurance in a relatively short time frame.
The recommended amount of cycling is about one hour per day, five days a week. As with most workouts, this requires a warm-up period and a cool down. It’s advisable to maintain a slow pace for at least 5 minutes before speeding up, then another 5 minutes of cool down before stopping.
It’s recommended that you space out cycling sessions throughout the week, ramping up in intensity each time. This is so that your body doesn’t get used to your pacing and neglect to make progress.
2. Develops Muscular Endurance
Just as vital as cardiovascular endurance is muscular endurance. Cycling offers that to your lower body in spades. Depending on the terrain you traverse, it can work out the other parts of your body as well. Biking off road or in hilly areas are good ways to involve your upper body in the workout too. Mountain biking on the other hand can be a full-on whole-body workout.
For beginners, fitness experts recommend 1+ hour rides on gentle terrain to form a good foundation to build your muscular endurance off of. Then, when you’ve become accustomed to that, you can move on to hard riding HIIT style. Depending on your endurance goals, you might want to prefer a certain type of terrain. So, get to know which bike brands specialize in your preferred terrain if you’re looking to buy a serious fitness bike for the first time.
3. Boosts Muscle Gains
As a natural co-effect of muscle endurance, cycling also produces some respectable muscle gains. It tones and increases the muscle mass of the body’s major muscle groups. Aside from your legs and glutes, it also contributes to the gains of your core, deltoids, biceps, and triceps.
While it can’t be your main bodybuilding workout, the muscle gains it does give are going to be a brilliant contribution to your overall effort. It appeals to our desire for movement, speed and adventure, and makes us fitter in the process.
4. Boosts Immunity
Since cycling is top-notch at exercising your cardiovascular system, it’s also a fantastic deterrent to circulatory diseases. If you incorporate cycling into your fitness routine, you can virtually pedal away from high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. To top that off, commuting by cycling also means you spend less time trapped inside your car and inhaling pollution fumes. This leads to better overall lung health.
You don’t even have to focus too much on it to reap all the benefits. Even moderate cycling can keep your bone composition stable, which prevents osteoporosis. Since the early 2000s, studies from Finland have also found that cycling for over 30 minutes a day significantly reduces the risk of contracting Type 2 diabetes.
Not to mention, scientists have even found a link between cycling and cancer prevention. Recent research has drawn correlations between cycling and a lower likelihood of developing colon cancer, likely due to the constant stimulation of the lower body. Other reports have also uncovered evidence that cycling can also prevent breast cancer. This is most likely because intense cycling is great for exercising the upper body.
5. Promotes Mental Health
Though not directly a fitness-improvement, cycling on a regular basis plays a positive impact on mental wellness. Being in good mental shape is not just good in its own right, but will also enhance your other physical fitness endeavors.
Any cyclist will tell you that they experience a sort of “high” after a good ride. Especially when they reach the infamous “flow state” wherein action becomes instinctive and natural. Being in such a state opens the floodgates of happy hormones throughout your system, instantly boosting your mood.
Cycle your way to better health
Cycling has also been found to be linked to memory improvements and creative thinking, as it’s the type of exercise that requires active cooperation between mind and body.
All of these benefits come together to stave off issues such as stress, anxiety, sleep-deprivation, self-esteem issues, and depression. It can even have a hand at slowing down degenerative memory conditions and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.