To be fit and healthy you need to be physically active. Regular physical activity can help protect you from serious diseases such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, diabetes and arthritis. Riding your bicycle regularly is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
Cycling is a healthy, low-impact exercise that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, from young children to older adults. It is also fun, cheap and good for the environment.
Cycling for health and fitness
It only takes two to four hours a week to achieve a general improvement to your health. Cycling is:
- Low impact.
- A good muscle workout.
- Good for strength and stamina.
- As intense as you want.
- A fun way to get fit.
Health benefits of regular cycling
Cycling is mainly an aerobic activity, which means that your heart, blood vessels and lungs all get a workout. You will breathe deeper, perspire and experience increased body temperature, which will improve your overall fitness level.
The health benefits of regular cycling include:
- Increased cardiovascular fitness.
- Increased muscle strength and flexibility.
- Improved joint mobility.
- Decreased stress levels.
- Improved posture and coordination.
- Strengthened bones.
- Decreased body fat levels.
- Prevention or management of disease.
- Reduced anxiety and depression.
Cycling and specific health issues
Cycling can improve both physical and mental health, and can reduce the chances of experiencing many health problems.
- Obesity and weight control
Research suggests you should be burning at least 8,400 kilojoules (about 2,000 calories) a week through exercise. Steady cycling burns about 1,200 kilojoules (about 300 calories) per hour.
If you cycle twice a day, the kilojoules burnt soon add up. British research shows that a half-hour bike ride every day will burn nearly five kilograms of fat over a year.
2. Cardiovascular disease and cycling
Cycling strengthens your heart muscles, lowers resting pulse and reduces blood fat levels. A Danish study conducted over 14 years with 30,000 people aged 20 to 93 years found that regular cycling protected people from heart disease.
3. Cancer and cycling
Many researchers have studied the relationship between exercise and cancer, especially colon and breast cancer. Research has shown that if you cycle, the chance of bowel cancer is reduced. Some evidence suggests that regular cycling reduces the risk of breast cancer.
4. Diabetes and cycling
The rate of type 2 diabetes is increasing and is a serious public health concern. Lack of physical activity is thought to be a major reason why people develop this condition. Large-scale research in Finland found that people who cycled for more than 30 minutes per day had a 40 per cent lower risk of developing diabetes.