The Benefits of Cycling for Overall Fitness and Mental Health

Cycling 3 Hours a Day

Cycling helps you maintain a healthy weight by burning calories. It also improves your balance and builds your legs.

Exercise boosts your mood by reducing anxiety, increasing your confidence and providing an endorphin release. It’s also known to help you sleep better and protect against age-related cognitive changes. It also stimulates brain cell growth.

Strength

Cycling is an effective way to build lean muscle and burn calories. It helps strengthen the glutes, hamstrings and quads. The resistance element of cycling increases the rate at which muscles burn calories, even when they’re at rest.

Cycling makes your lungs and heart stronger over time. It also improves oxygen delivery to the brain and other organs. A study by University of Glasgow found that cycling cuts the risk of serious diseases such as heart disease and cancer by half.

It’s an accessible form of exercise that can be scaled to different fitness levels and lifestyles. You can go all out in a Tabata session or pedal for an hour as a relaxing commute. You can ride solo or in a group, and it’s easy to find a bike that’s right for you.

Speed

Cycling is a low impact cardio workout that can help strengthen your heart and build your fitness level. It’s also a good way to burn calories, especially if you ride at a fast pace.

A 155-pound person burns about 596 calories per hour riding at a moderate speed. If you increase the intensity of your ride, you’ll burn even more calories.

A slow, long ride will develop your “slow twitch” muscles, which can fire repeatedly for long periods but don’t get too tired. A shorter, high intensity ride will develop your “fast twitch” muscles, which can burst into short sprints. Both types of muscle growth are important for building a well-rounded exercise program. Studies show that regular cycling makes your skeletal muscles more insulin-sensitive, which can lower blood sugar levels and reduce your risk for diabetes and heart disease.

Endurance

Cycling raises the heart rate and gets the blood pumping, all while burning calories. This means it limits the chances of weight gain. It also cuts the risk of major illnesses like heart disease and cancer by reducing body fat.

Aim to do a short, intense session of hill reps every day, or cycle for 2-5 hours at a steady pace on flat terrain. The goal is to keep intensity in Zone 2 as much as possible, though hilly rides will likely result in a mixture of Zone 1 and Zone 3 efforts.

Regular cycling can improve balance and increase confidence in the legs, which is great for preventing injury. It can even help with sleep, as exercising regularly reduces cortisol levels and encourages a good night’s rest.

Flexibility

Cycling is a versatile workout that can be adapted to fit many different fitness goals and lifestyles. You can use a spinning or indoor cycling machine for warm-ups, steady-state cardio sessions, HIIT training and Tabata, or just pedal a leisurely bike ride on rest days.

Even at a recreational pace, cycling sparks metabolic and physiological changes that keep your body in fat-burning mode for hours after you get off the bike. That, in turn, supports weight loss goals.

There are several factors that can affect the results you get from cycling, including your personal physiology and metabolism, your weight and other variables like intensity. So if you’re hoping to get serious about cycling, make sure you take the time to find a cycling program that fits your needs.

Mental Health

Cycling is an excellent way to meet the World Health Organisation’s exercise guidelines. “With a bike, 90 per cent of people who cycle commute reach their target,” says Cath Collins, a dietician at St George’s Hospital in London.

For the brain, moderate exercise is like Miracle-Gro for neurons, stimulating growth factors that help prevent the cognitive changes of ageing and Alzheimer’s disease. Research also suggests that cycling can boost memory skills, concentration ability and problem-solving.

Your quadriceps do most of the work on a bike, but you’ll also use your core muscles, shoulders, triceps and hamstrings. If you have a condition such as cardiovascular issues, balance problems or breathing difficulties, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program, particularly one that includes cycling.

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