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What are the benefits of cycling? Well, it’s a fantastic way to stay fit, a wonderfully green way to travel, and a great way to spend more time outdoors, to name just a few of the perks of hopping on your bike. Since the pandemic hit in 2020, cycling in the UK has seen a surge in popularity, and we’re not at all surprised. With more time on our hands, less to do, and more reason than ever to get outdoors, we, as a nation have been grabbing life by the handlebars, and hitting the road. But if you’re still sitting on the fence about getting on that saddle, then explore the many benefits of cycling with us, and discover why it’s a fantastic investment in your own health and wellbeing – as well as the planet’s.
Reconnect With The Great Outdoors
Whilst the pandemic has, on the one hand, required us to spend more time outdoors, it’s also caused us to spend more time glued to screens and technology than ever before, forcing the replacement of face-to-face social contact with digital interactions and workstreams. Cycling is a fantastic way to get back out into the fresh air and explore scenic routes, local parks and more. Spending time outside is important for both our physical and mental wellbeing, and swapping sedentary time spent on the sofa or sat in your car, with a stretch of healthy outdoor exercise, is a great way to ensure you’re getting what you need.
A Great Mood Booster
Not only does cycling encourage you to get out of the house, which in itself can be a great mood booster (especially for those of us really feeling the effects of the lockdowns we’ve endured this past year) but it’s a form of exercise too – which means the physiological benefits are also yours for the taking when you put that helmet on, and start pedaling! When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These interact with receptors in your brain to reduce your perception of pain, but they also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that caused by morphine. Physical exercise also stimulates the release of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin, which play an important part in regulating your mood, as well as keeping stress hormones like adrenaline in check. To put it simply, exercise is an incredible (and natural!) way to manage your state of mind and wellbeing.
An Environmental Impact
Not only is cycling great for your own health, but taking more journeys by bike and less by car, where possible, helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change. More bikes on the road and less cars means air pollutants are lower, and noise pollution and congestion are also reduced.
Cycling Suits All Fitness Levels
Cycling is an incredible way for people of all levels of fitness to approach exercise, as it enables you to begin gently, riding at a pace and exertion level that is comfortable to you, without having to worry about the effects of heavy impact exercise (like running) on your bones and joints. Riding a bike can be a great route to fitness for those with osteoarthritis, for this reason. If you are new to working out or recovering from injury or illness, cycling is a great form of exercise that allows you to build up your stamina over time, from a gentle pace to a more demanding workout.
Adventure is Addictive
The problem with sticking to a regular exercise routine, is that once the initial enthusiasm wears off, many of us give up on putting the time into improving our fitness, because we find the workouts themselves boring. One of our favourite benefits of cycling is that each and every workout can be an exciting new adventure if you want it to be. You can explore new locations; enjoy the buzz of coasting down hills and combine it with the challenge of cycling up them! Motivate yourself by finding new routes to take each week, so that every workout will be different.
Your Body Benefits
It goes without saying that cycling is good for your body – but how, exactly? Well, cycling helps to increase your cardiovascular fitness, improve your muscle strength and flexibility, as well as aid joint mobility, posture and coordination. Regular cycling helps to strengthen and stimulate your heart, lungs and circulation, helping to reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks. It can also be a great way to tackle obesity, as cycling raises your metabolic rate, helping you to build muscle and burn body fat.
Cycling is easy to fit into your daily routine if you can identify daily or weekly journeys that you could make by bike instead of car or public transport; once you’ve made the initial investment of buying your bike and safety equipment, it’s also a free way to travel!
Always remember to speak with a health professional before embarking on a new exercise routine, and ensure you are well enough to participate in your chosen regimen without causing yourself illness or injury.
For more top tips on boosting your wellbeing, check out the rest of our articles right here.