10 Reasons Why You Should Take Up Cycling In 2023

by | Feb 20, 2023 | Fitness

The benefits of cycling finally got their dues during lockdown, when the number of people going for a ride increased by 200% on weekends and 100% on weekdays

I got into cycling, and I’ve never been into cycling in my life. I didn’t even know what cleats were. I really got into it, and I really, really enjoyed it.

Michelle Keegan 

Back then, it was all about outdoor cycling. The beauty of cycling (and one of the biggest benefits) is that it takes so many different forms; maybe you’re one of said people who swears by getting outdoors for long countryside rides, while some of you might live for intervals on the Peloton parked in your living room, or the exercise bike at your local gym. Whichever shape your cycling sessions take, know that the benefits of cycling apply to all.

Here are 10 reasons to consider taking it up in 2023. On your bike.

1. It’s a low-impact form of cardio

Loui Fazakerley, a sports performance coach and keen cyclist at It’s Only A Hill, tells us:

‘Cycling, as a low-impact workout, is much easier on the joints and your skeletal system than most cardio workouts, like running and HIIT workouts that involve jumps such as burpees. But cycling is still a great cardio workout for your lungs.’

Loui Fazakerley

And you don’t necessarily need to get outdoors; one 2019 study in the journal Medicina found that indoor cycling could improve your aerobic capacity, i.e. your cardiovascular system’s ability to provide your working muscles with oxygen, which it then uses for energy. It’s a no-brainer for anyone suffering with, or recovering from, injury. But remember that weight-bearing activities are required for promoting bone density – these include walking and strength training.

2. Cycling is a great way to sightsee

‘A big benefit of cycling is that it gives you a huge sense of freedom. It is a great way to see the city or the countryside, and cover more ground than you can on foot,’ Fazakerley explains.

3. It’s a mood-booster and stress-reliever

Cycling is proven to ease stress and anxiety by calming external thoughts and forcing you to concentrate on your cadence and any speed or incline you might be working with. Fazakerley adds, ‘Once you’re confident and proficient on the bike, you can find yourself zoning out into a state of meditation, when out in quiet country lanes or on quiet roads.’

One study found that the positive mental feelings that come from cycling are largely down to the release of endorphins in your body, which counter the production of cortisol (the stress hormone). The same research also found that cycling outside increased these effects.

4. It’s a good way to socialise

‘Cycling is a great way to meet new people at one of the many cycling clubs across the UK,’ Fazakerley says. ‘Whether you want to ride fast or just want to have great conversation on or off the bike, there is a cycling club out there for you. Rides – more often than not – usually have a coffee stop in the middle, or the end… or both! The coffee is usually accompanied with a slice of cake, too. Remember, a healthy and happy life is all about balance.’

5. Cycling can help with weight loss

If you’re a loyal WH reader, you’ll know by now that there are plenty of factors to consider if you want to lose weight: your nutrition, NEAT exercise levels, sleep habits, and stress levels, to name a few. Studies have shown that cycling can also help, by reducing body fat and increasing muscle, which encourages healthy weight management since the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn at rest. Other studies have also shown that complementing cycling with sprint and weightlifting can contribute to weight loss, by increasing your metabolism and building muscle.

You can also read: What You Need To Know About Doing Cycling Classes For Weight Loss

6. Cycling can be adapted to suit all levels

As the age-old adage goes, anything once learned and easy to resume is ‘like riding a bike’. So long as you’ve done it before, you’ll be able to do it again, so a big benefit of cycling is that it appeals to both beginners and advanced exercisers. Once you’re back on the saddle, you can adapt your cycling workout to suit your fitness level; go for low intensity if you’re just getting used to it, or try sprint or incline intervals if you’re up for a challenge.

7. It’s good for the environment

One benefit of cycling that can’t go without mentioning is its environmentally friendly nature. Recent research found that commuting by bike over car once a day, decreases your carbon footprint by 67%, while it takes approximately 5% of the materials and energy needed to make a car, and a bike produces zero petrol. We rest our case.

8. Cycling builds muscle

‘It strengthens your quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves,’ says Fazakerley. ‘To make sure you’re getting the most resistance, make sure you push and pull down on every pedal with equal effort, rather than pushing down and letting the pedals spring back up. The pushing will activate your quads and the pulling will activate your hamstrings.’

Change gear for a higher resistance on a standard outdoor bike, or increase the resistance on the notch of an indoor exercise bike to do so. A 2015 study proved that cycling certainly can help increase your muscle mass, but you’ll need to incorporate resistance training in your routine to achieve your full strength potential.

9. It saves time and money

If you’ve got this far in the article, it should be pretty clear that the health benefits of cycling abound, but there are practical pros to outdoor cycling, too. For one, cycling as a mode of transport will save you money on all the public transport/petrol you may use otherwise. What’s more, you’ll spend less time sitting in traffic, or queues at car parks, bus stops or train stations. Go figure.

10. Cycling could help you live longer

study published in the journal Sports Medicine showed that those who habitually travel by bike live longer, healthier lives. The review looked at 17 previous studies with a total data set of 478,847 participants and found that ‘casual cyclists’, a.k.a. people who consider cycling a way of life as opposed to a get-fit-quick fix, had a 23% higher chance of avoiding premature death, as well as a significantly reduced risk of cardiovascular illness.

The article Benefits of cycling: 10 reasons to take it up in 2023 was originally published on Women’s Health UK

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