Whether you’re racing along the highway on a road bike, careening down trails on a mountain bike, or enjoying a sunny afternoon on a beach cruiser, your time cycling is more than just fun. Cycling is one of the best activities for your health.
There’s plenty of research that demonstrates the importance of regular exercise for not only maintaining good health but also preventing disease. An increasing amount of that research points specifically to the benefits of cycling. A study out of the University of Glasgow published in the British Medical Journal reported that individuals who cycled to work had a lower risk of developing or dying from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Even just mixing up your commute with walking and cycling had better results than walking alone. The study also reported that cycling greater distances increased those benefits.
Not only is cycling a smart move when it comes to prevention, but it will also literally make you smarter. A study based in the Netherlands showed that cycling improves the density and integrity of white matter in your brain. White matter connects the different parts of your grey matter. The more white matter you have, the faster your brain works, increasing your decision-making ability.
But that’s not all. Another study showed that cycling boosted a protein responsible for regulating stress, mood, and memory, which can help stave off depression and anxiety.
When it comes to bone and muscle health, cycling is right there with the best exercises. Because cycling isn’t a load-bearing exercise, it’s easy on the joints. “That makes it good for anyone with joint pain or age-related stiffness,” says Dr. Clare Safran-Norton, a physical therapist at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
While you’re riding, you’re building buttocks, thighs, and calves, as well as hitting your abdominals, arms, and shoulders. That additional strength and muscle have added benefits. “The benefits carry over to balance, walking, standing, endurance, and stair climbing,” explains Dr. Safran-Norton. You’ll also be strengthening your bones. “Resistance activities, such as pushing pedals, pull on the muscles, and then the muscles pull on the bone, which increases bone density.”
The physical benefits of cycling don’t outpace the mental benefits. “It’s socially oriented, it’s fun, and it gets you outside and exercising,” says Dr. Safran-Norton. Dr. Rachel Aldred’s report “Benefits of Investing in Cycling,” adds that populations where more people cycle are healthier, happier, more social, less isolated, and more welcoming to others.
What’s more, an increasing number of charities use cycling events to raise funds, so while you’re reaping the health benefits, you’ll be helping those in need. Not only does cycling help you feel better physically, but you’ll also feel better about others and yourself.
Cycling isn’t just for speedsters, thrill-seekers, or family outings. This sport benefits all participants in more ways than one short article can enumerate. The good news is that you’re just a pedal away from having all those benefits for yourself.
The Infographic of 10 Wonderful Health Benefits of Cycling
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