Staying physically active is crucial for staying healthy and fit. Regular physical exercise can protect you against various ailments like obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and mental illness. Cycling is one of the best exercises to reduce health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
Cycling can be a low-impact exercise, almost anyone can ride a cycle, from a young child to an elderly adult. Not only this, but it is also cheap, fun, and environmentally friendly. Besides that, you don’t need to spend any extra time on it. You can easily include cycling into your everyday routine. According to the UN, there are one billion cycles globally, which is almost the same number of vehicles on the road today. The COVID-19 pandemic has also encouraged several cities across the globe to redesign their transportation systems.
Here, we will discuss cycling, its benefits, types, and exercises.
Reasons Why Cycling is So Good
Cycling only 2-4 hours a week is sufficient to improve your general health and fitness level. Let’s investigate a few reasons why it is one of the most sought-after forms of exercise among people of all ages:
Great Muscle Workout: As you pedal, cycling involves almost all the muscle groups in your body.
Low Impact Exercise: Cycling causes less stress with minimal chances of injuries. That is why it is an excellent exercise for anyone who wishes to exercise.
Easy To Do: Cycling does not require special training or a high physical skill level. Many people may have learned to ride bikes at a young age. If not, it can be acquired quickly, and once this skill has been obtained one never forgets it during a lifetime.
Choose Your Intensity Level: Cycling can be as intense as you want. If you are trying to recover from an injury or illness, you may start with low intensity. However, as you build up, you may turn it into a challenging physical workout.
Enjoyable: Being outdoors or riding down a hill can be thrilling and adventurous. You can change your cycling route whenever you want and explore more places at different times.
Social Life: When you cycle outdoors, you may turn it into an incredibly social sport. Join a cycling club and chitchat with others while doing low-intensity cycling. It can help you grow your circle and get some advice from experienced cyclists.
Health Benefits of Cycling Regularly
Regular cycling is a kind of aerobic activity, which gives an excellent workout to your lungs, heart, and blood vessels. With cycling, you improve your health and fitness level by breathing deeply, perspiring, and increasing body temperature. The health benefits of cycling regularly include the following and much more:
Weight Control: Regular cycling is a fantastic way to reduce or control weight. It works by building muscle, burning body fat, and raising metabolic rate. If you are trying to shed pounds, the combination of cycling and a healthy diet can be the best plan. Cycling is easy and comfortable, and you may modify the intensity easily to make it suitable for your needs and stamina.
Cardiovascular Health: Regular cycling improves your lungs, heart, and blood circulation. As a result, it helps prevent any cardiovascular issues like high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Cycling effectively reduces your fat levels, strengthens your heart muscles, and lowers your resting heart rate. Since cycling does not use any fuel for operation, it does not add to air pollution.
Leg Strength: Cycling improves your lower body strength and makes your leg muscles stronger by targeting calves, hamstrings, glutes, and quads. Combining cycling with squats, lunges, and leg presses can enhance the results.
Cancer Prevention: Regular exercise is highly effective in preventing cancer, especially breast and colon cancers.
Diabetes Control: Lack of physical activity is one of the most important reasons people develop type 2 diabetes. People who cycle regularly have found that it can keep blood sugar levels under control.
Improves Posture, Balance, and Coordination: it helps to stabilize your body to keep your balance. As a result, you improve your overall posture, coordination, and balance over time. Since balance may decline with inactivity and age, cycling can help with staying on top of it.
Bone Health: Cycling is known to improve balance, coordination, and bone strength so that your bones remain intact even if you fall. Riding a cycle is an ideal exercise for those with osteoarthritis since it gives your bones a low-impact workout without placing much stress on your joints.
Mental Health: Regular cycling can also prevent a wide range of mental health issues, such as anxiety, stress, and depression. Since it is an enjoyable exercise, it improves your mood and gives you quality sleep during the night.
Immunity: Cycling has great benefits for your upper respiratory system, thereby reducing any chances of a common cold. It increases protein production and wakes up your white blood cells to improve your immunity. It also may help to keep you safe from germs while traveling on trains and buses when commuting.
Sex Life: Sex is great, but did you know it is good for your overall health, too? Cycling involves all those muscles used during intercourse. Therefore, improving these muscles can help you have a more active and more prolonged sex life.
Outdoor vs. Indoor Cycling: Which One is Better?
Now that you know the benefits of cycling and how it can improve your physical and mental health, you must be wondering whether the stationary bike in the gym delivers the same results. Well, both cycling types indeed help build muscles and improve cardiovascular health. However, both outdoor and indoor cycling have their pros and cons. Let’s look.
Pros of Indoor Cycling: Many people find indoor cycling more comfortable than outside since it allows them to cycle within their convenient time frames. Plus, they don’t need to worry about the weather. You can cycle indoors while watching TV or streaming videos. On the contrary, most people avoid listening to music while cycling outdoors due to safety issues. Indoor cycling is generally safe for listening to your favorite music.
Many stationary bikes have programmed workouts, enabling you to do some high-intensity interval training without worrying about the traffic. Spinning classes are very motivating and fun for people who want to remain accountable within a group.
Cons of Indoor Cycling: For some people, indoor cycling can be boring and monotonous. There is no fun in cycling on the same spot where the scenery and terrain never change. Others find spinning classes too intimidating to begin with. Since you are free to choose your intensity, you may keep the workout too easy if you do not push your limits.
Compared to a real outdoor bicycle, a stationary bike is costly, and joining spinning classes also costs money. You do not get a chance to enjoy the fresh air and natural terrain that outdoor cycling can provide.
Muscles Targeted by Indoor Cycling: Since indoor cycling uses a flywheel, it gives a hard workout to your hamstrings. You can feel your calves and quads as you work against the flywheel’s resistance. A beginner’s core can fire up as they try to maintain their balance and create power through their legs and hips. You may engage glutes by standing up on the bike. Pedaling backward can improve your cycling performance and work better for your quadriceps.
Pros of Outdoor Cycling: There is nothing better than getting outside on the weekend and hitting a trail. If you are going to cover a few miles, you can hop on your cycle and start your journey. While indoor cycling can become boring sometimes, you can change your terrain and route during outdoor cycling. Outdoor cycling not only gives you a good workout, but can at times, come in handy in completing other activities such as shopping for necessary items or running errands. Install a basket on your bike and buy some groceries, fruits, or vegetables on your way back.
Outdoor cycling gives a boost to your mental health as well, as it reduces anger, depression, stress, and tension. Being around nature improves your self-esteem and mood. Cycling outdoors gives you more opportunities to intensify your workout. For instance, if you choose a hilly terrain, you have no choice but to increase your cycling intensity.
Cons of Outdoor Cycling: Despite the benefits mentioned above, outdoor cycling has its limitations. If your area receives harsh winters, scorchy summers, or heavy rains and or snow, you may not be able to cycle outdoors for several days at a stretch. It has some safety risks, too, as you may fall off the cycle, break a bone, or get scraped up. Cars and pedestrians can also be real dangers while cycling outdoors.
Muscles Targeted by Outdoor Cycling: Outdoor cycling can be extra challenging depending on your cycling environment. Factors like wind resistance, mountain, and road require heavier use of quadriceps and hip flexors. While cycling outdoors, you target more muscles than indoor cycling, such as calves, shins, and glutes.
Which is Better?
Now that you know the pros and cons of indoor and outdoor cycling, you must think about which one is better. Well, there are numerous factors to consider that can help you make the right choice. For instance, if you want to cycle but have no access to a safe trail, indoor cycling would be better. However, if you need motivation and want to break the monotony, hit an outdoor terrain a few times a week.
Ideally, it would be better to use a combination of both indoor and outdoor cycling. If the weather is fine and you need to cover a short distance, take an outdoor bike trail, and enjoy. On other days, you may consider riding an indoor bike. No matter how you do it, you may get significant benefits from cycling regularly.
Exercises Worth Trying to Increase Your Cycling Stamina
After knowing the benefits of cycling and deciding between indoor or outdoor cycling, you may want to gain the most out of your workout. These exercises are worth trying that can increase your cycling stamina and improve your performance:
Side Plank: Your trunk bends to the side while cycling; therefore, you must consider strengthening these muscles to avoid any injury. Side plank often targets these muscles and helps you focus on the side-benders.
Split Squat: This exercise challenges your glutes and quadriceps without the need for any extra weight.
Straight Leg Hold: Cycling can give your quadriceps a great deal of hammering, which you can contract with a straight leg hold. It also loosens your hamstrings so that your muscles can relax.
Spinal Extension: Your lower back has a significant role to play in your cycling motion. If these muscles are weak, you may end up getting back pain after a cycling session; therefore, the spinal extension can be an excellent exercise to strengthen these muscles.
Single-Leg Calf Raise: Your calf muscles are responsible for flexing your knees and sending power to the pedals so that you can pull through at the pedal stroke’s bottom.
Side-Lying Hip Abduction: Muscle weakness can take your hip to the side and cause knee pain. This exercise can train these hip abductors and prevent or improve knee pain.
Press-Up: No at-home exercise routine is complete without these exercises. Since your triceps get active when you try to maintain position on the cycle, it would be worth including press-ups in your exercise routine.
Do these exercises 1-2 times a week, depending on your frequency and intensity of cycling. With consistency, you can notice improvements in your cycling stamina so that you can become a better rider without any pains or aches.
Cycling is an enjoyable workout to stay healthy, boost your mood, and get in touch with the world you live in. It can be a wonderful way of exploring your locality. However, if the weather is not in your favor, hop on a stationary bike indoors and maintain your routine. While cycling outdoors, use caution to play it safe, especially in bad weather or on busy roads. No matter what, it is a great way to improve your health and fitness while having fun, too!