To be fit and healthy, regular physical activity is a must. Within this, cycling can have a protective effect, as it helps prevent serious diseases such as obesity, heart and cancer pathologies, as well as mental conditions, diabetes and arthritis.
Cycling, health and fitness
Cycling is a healthy, low-impact exercise for the joints, which makes it suitable for people of all ages. It’s also fun, cheap, and eco-friendly.
Going to work or shopping can be an effective way to combine regular physical exercise with daily activities.
It is estimated that, in the world, some one billion people ride a bicycle every day, either as a means of transport or recreation, or as a sport.
It is only necessary to dedicate two to four hours of cycling a week to achieve an improvement in health at a general level, which is manifested in several advantage:
- It is of low impact, since the joints suffer less stress and injuries than in other sports practices.
- Provides good muscle training as cycling uses all major muscle groups when pedaling.
- It’s easy, as cycling doesn’t require high levels of physical ability.
- It is good for increasing strength, endurance, and aerobic fitness.
- It is of adjustable demand, since, to begin with, it can be practiced at a very low intensity, as in the case of people with a lack of training or who are recovering from an injury or illness.
Health benefits of cycling
Cycling is primarily an aerobic activity, which implies that the cardiopulmonary system is activated to irrigate the muscles that are working. This will generate a deeper and more efficient breathing, a greater increase in body temperature, mobilization of glycogen and fat stores. For longer and more intense exercises, your overall fitness level will improve.
Also, given the existence of some modified or special bicycles, it allows amputees, people with spinal injuries, and those recovering from certain conditions, such as stroke, to ride a bicycle as a form of exercise and recreation.
Its regular practice manifests itself in several benefits:
1.- Increases muscle tone and flexibility
Its regular practice helps to tone and firm the muscles of the lower body, which includes thighs, calves, quads and glutes.
Also, it favors the muscles of the lumbar, abdominal, pectorals, shoulders and back.
2.- Reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases
Due to the physical effort it causes, the blood supply to the heart and brain is increased. This helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, high blood pressure, and heart attack.
Cycling optimizes the work of the heart muscles, reduces the resting heart rate and lowers blood lipid levels, which is a risk factor for developing cardiovascular diseases.
3.- Burns fat
It is a good option for losing or maintaining a healthy weight, as it increases the metabolic rate, builds muscle and burns excess body fat.
Cycling increases metabolic rate (ability to burn calories at rest), builds muscle, and burns body fat.
To lose body fat, cycling must be combined with a healthy eating plan, as research suggests that you should burn at least 2,000 calories per week through exercise, considering an expenditure of about 300 calories per hour.
4.- Reduces cholesterol levels
Riding a bicycle has been shown to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol, known as bad cholesterol, which is the one that carries cholesterol from the liver to the blood vessels, producing atheromas, facilitated by a systemic inflammatory condition.
5.- Strengthens the immune system
Cycling causes the body to synthesize and secrete neurotransmitters that produce a feeling of well-being and improve mood, while reducing stress.
All this favors the production of certain leukocytes, the defensive cells responsible for synthesizing antibodies and eliminating bacteria.
6.- Reduces the risk of developing cancer
According to several studies, its regular practice reduces the risk of suffering from various types of cancer, such as colon, prostate, pancreas and breast.
This is directly related to the improvement in the functioning of the immune system by recognizing, removing and eliminating cancer cells from the body.
7.- Increases brain function
Some mental conditions such as depression, stress, and anxiety can be reduced by riding a bike regularly.
In addition, cognitive alterations can also be reduced or slowed down, due to the effects of exercise itself, both for its effects in terms of irrigation and neurotransmitter synthesis.
8.- Promotes coordination
When cycling, the brain processes all the information to know the exact position of all parts of the body at all times. In this way, it determines if it is necessary to react immediately to avoid an accident or injury.
Therefore, cycling directly affects the development of the body scheme in relation to space and regulates balance, muscle coordination and the alertness of the nervous system.
9.- Improves flexibility and osteoarticular resistance
Strengthening bones and muscles helps prevent osteoarticular injuries such as fractures. This is especially evident in highly complex joints such as the knees.
10.- Lowers the risk of developing diabetes
Its practice reduces the chances of developing diabetes type 2, as it helps control blood glucose levels.
Tips for choosing a good team
To take full advantage of the benefits of cycling, it is advisable to choose good equipment, such as the use of a helmet and the comfort of a suitable outfit.
The cycling clothing is made with high-tech fibers, designed to absorb moisture, as well as reflective neon colors for better visibility by drivers.
The choice of the bicycle must be according to the use you want to give it. For walks or shopping, it must be designed in such a way that it allows an upright ride and easy riding, as well as having a saddle that is comfortable and soft.