The benefits of cycling are almost as endless as the country lanes you could soon be exploring. If you’re considering taking up cycling and weighing it up against other potential activities, then we’re here to tell you that cycling is hands down the best option.
1.Cycling improves mental well-being
There are so many ways that exercise can boost your mood: there’s the basic release of adrenalin and endorphins, and the improved confidence that comes from achieving new things (such as completing a sportive or getting closer to that goal).
Cycling combines physical exercise with being outdoors and exploring new views. You can ride solo – giving you time to process worries or concerns, or you can ride with a group which broadens your social circle.
Former Hour Record holder Graeme Obree has suffered from depression through much of his life, and told us: “Getting out and riding will help [people suffering from depression]… Without cycling, I don’t know where I would be.”
2. Cycling promotes weight loss
The simple equation, when it comes to weight loss, is ‘calories out must exceed calories in’. So you need to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight. Cycling burns calories: between 400 and 1000 an hour, depending on intensity and rider weight.
Of course, there are other factors: the make-up of the calories you consume affects the frequency of your refueling, as does the quality of your sleep and of course the amount of time you spend burning calories will be influenced by how much you enjoy your chosen activity.
Assuming you enjoy cycling, you’ll be burning calories. And if you eat well, you should lose weight.
3. Cycling build muscle
The resistance element of cycling means that it doesn’t just burn fat: it also builds muscle – particularly around the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. Muscle is leaner than fat, and people with a higher percentage of muscle burn more calories even when sedentary.
To be clear – you won’t end up with quads like a track sprinter unless you invest a serious amount of time at the squat rack. But you will develop a nice toned derriere.
4. Enjoy Second breakfasts
If you decide to cycle to work, you’ve got a great excuse to add a couple of guilt-free snacks to your day.
Since a half hour ride to work should be burning between 200 and 500 calories, you’ve got a license to enjoy a smug second breakfast at your desk.
If you’re serious about burning fat, you could do your morning ride fasted (sans breakfast) – but that’s mainly a habit reserved for the most dedicated of nutters.
5. Better lunge health
You won’t be alone if this point seems contradictory to common sense. But a recent study suggests that people who ride a bike are actually exposed to fewer dangerous fumes than those who travel by car.
A study by the Healthy Air Campaign, Kings College London, and Camden Council saw air pollution detectors fitted to a driver, a bus user, a pedestrian and a cyclist using a busy route through central London.
6. Cut heart disease and Cancer risk
Cycling raises your heart rate and gets the blood pumping around your body, and it burns calories, limiting the chance of your being overweight. As a result, it’s among a selection of forms of exercise recommended by the NHS as being healthy ways to cut your risk of developing major illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.