Need A Reason To Ride Your Bike?
So you want to start riding, good for you! But in case you need just a little more motivation to get off of the couch, read on.
Although improved health and fitness is not the only benefit, it is the one that comes to mind first. However, most people don't realize the extent of the benefits.
Better blood circulation: The more your muscles contract and the more force they exert, the better the circulation. This is not only true while you're biking, but continues even after you've stopped. The benefits of good blood circulation include a reduction in blood viscosity (thickness); reduced chance of a stroke or a heart attack; lower blood pressure; lower risk of varicose veins developing; reduced likelihood of hemorrhoids developing; reduction of headaches and severity; and less blood pooling in the lower extremities.
Improved lymphatic circulation: This system is vital to the proper functioning of the immune system. Muscle contractions and joint movement are the best ways to improve the circulation of lymphatic fluids. A healthy lymphatic system helps your body fight off illness and infections, promotes healing, reduces swelling in extremities and joints, and helps your body detoxify.
Improved cardiovascular fitness: This benefit is the one most people associate with biking. The more you ride your bike, the more efficient your cardiovascular system will be, which means a more efficient heart, a lower resting heart rate, and increased lung capacity.
Improved cholesterol profile: The best way to improve your cholesterol profile is through exercise, especially that which is high intensity. Regular exercise has been shown to not only reduce bad cholesterol, but it also increases good cholesterol i.e. high density lipoproteins. Of course, the best results come when combined with a healthy diet.
Lower triglyceride levels: When we think of fat we think of the fat that's around our belly or on our hips. These are known as fat deposits. We also have fat floating around in our blood vessels which is referred to as triglycerides. If triglycerides are not used for fuel they will become stored fat. High triglyceride levels have also been closely associated with an increased risk of heart disease. The good news is, with a healthier diet and regular cardiovascular exercise, such as cycling, triglyceride levels can be reduced significantly.
Improved blood sugar profile: When we consume anything with sugar our body responds by having the pancreas release insulin so the cells can absorb the sugars and use it for energy. What many people don't know is that exercise will have the same effect. Muscular contraction will assist in the absorption of the sugars in a similar manner as insulin. This is even more beneficial if you are diabetic since sugar levels can be controlled through physical activity and fewer insulin injections.
Reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes: With type 2 diabetes being considered an epidemic by some experts, regular exercise, such as cycling, and weight control is the best way to reduce the chance of developing the disease. In addition, it is also sometimes possible to eliminate the disease once you are diagnosed with regular cardiovascular exercise such as cycling combined with weight control.
Fat loss: The best way to think of body fat is to look at it as a fuel source. When we have too much fuel in the tank we have too much body fat. To reduce the amount of fuel we need to use it up. With cycling, depending on the intensity, you can burn up to 700 calories per hour.
Increased lower body muscle strength and endurance of the hips, quads, and calf muscles. If you do uphill and standing up cycling you will also involve more of your upper body muscles such as your core, arms, and chest.
Low impact exercise: Besides the above health benefits, cycling, because of its non-impact nature, can be done daily with very little risk of chronic injury. For example, jogging is high impact, and while it has many benefits, most people can't run everyday without feeling knee, hip, or ankle pain. However, cycling does not have these negative results and can be enjoyed daily or with shorter rides multiple times per day.
Besides the physical benefits, there are also psychological ones as well. After a ride you'll feel more relaxed and less stressed. It is an excellent way to leave all your problems behind. By focusing on one thing, cycling, you'll clear your mind and essentially be meditating (not with your eyes closed of course).
Most of us have heard of the ‘fight or flight' syndrome, where adrenaline is released in the body during stress. This adrenaline remains in our blood stream causing an unhealthy situation. With the muscle contractions required of cycling, and therefore the increase in blood flow, adrenaline is ‘used' up helping release the bad effects of stress.
Endorphins are released during riding making you feel good. Don't be surprised if after a few weeks of riding you become ‘addicted'. Of course this is the good kind of addiction, and what it means is that it will become part of your lifestyle. Missed workout rides will leave you feeling like something is missing, until you get back on the bike.
There are many cycling clubs in almost every city. Find one that is your style and it can become an excellent way to meet people with similar interests and to challenge yourself to ride harder and longer. Plus, the after ride social events can lift your spirits further.
A weekend cycling trip with the kids is an excellent way to get them off their tablets and to enjoy nature while getting some exercise. Incorporating pleasurable ways of staying fit and healthy will increase the chance that your children will continue these good habits as they get older. In addition, it's an excellent way to bond with that special person in your life. You know what they say, ‘a couple that plays together, stays together.'
Many people use cycling as their main transportation. Besides all of the physical and psychological benefits, this also translates into financial savings by leaving your car at home: less gas, less wear and tear on the car, no parking fees, etc. Plus, you'll arrive at work feeling better than you would have if you sat in traffic for an hour. Besides your benefits, you will be helping the planet by reducing CO2 emissions and reducing your environmental footprint.
So what do you say? Time to strap on that helmet and hit the road?