Cycling has just as many advantages as the country lanes you’ll soon be discovering. If you’re thinking of taking up cycling and comparing it to other sports, Outdoors Getaway is here to tell you that cycling is by far the best choice.
We admit it: we’re biased – but there are a slew of compelling reasons to make biking your latest hobby. Here are a few examples…
1. Cycling is good for your mental health
According to a YMCA survey, people who live a physically active lifestyle have a wellness score that is 32% higher than those who do not.
Exercise can enhance the mood in a variety of ways, including the release of adrenalin and endorphins, as well as the increased optimism that comes from accomplishing new goals (such as completing a sportive or getting closer to that goal).
Cycling blends physical activity with getting outside and taking in new sights. You can ride alone to process your worries or concerns, or you can ride with a party to expand your social circle.
Graeme Obree, the former Hour Record holder, has struggled with depression for most of his life and told us, “Getting out and riding would benefit [people suffering from depression]…” I’m not sure where I’d be if it weren’t for cycling.”
2. Increase the immune system's strength by cycling.
During the global Covid-19 pandemic, this is especially important.
Appalachian State University’s Dr. David Nieman and colleagues surveyed 1000 people up to the age of 85. They discovered that exercise had a significant impact on the health of the upper respiratory system, resulting in fewer cases of the common cold.
“People will reduce sick days by about 40% by exercising aerobically on most days of the week, while still enjoying many other exercise-related health benefits,” Nieman said.
Mild exercise, according to Professor Tim Noakes of exercise and sports science at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, will strengthen our immune system by increasing the development of essential proteins and reawakening dormant white blood cells.
What makes you want to ride a bike? Cycling to work will cut your commuting time in half and keep you away from germ-infested buses and trains.
But there’s a catch. Evidence indicates that the immune system is lowered immediately following vigorous exercise, such as an interval training session, but that proper treatment, such as eating and sleeping well, will help to reverse this.
3. Cycling helps you lose weight.
When it comes to weight loss, the basic formula is “calories out must outweigh calories in.” To lose weight, you must eat more calories than you consume. Cycling burns calories at a rate of 400 to 1000 calories per hour, depending on the speed and weight of the rider.
Of course, there are other considerations: the composition of the calories you eat, as well as the quality of your sleep, determine the frequency at which you refill, and the amount of time you spend burning calories is determined by how much you enjoy your chosen activity.
You’ll be burning calories if you like cycling. You can lose weight if you eat right.
4. Cycling helps you gain muscle mass.
Cycling’s resistance component means it not only burns fat but also builds muscle, particularly in the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. Muscle is leaner than fat, and people with more muscle burn more calories even though they are sedentary.
To be clear, unless you spend a lot of time at the squat rack, you won’t end up with quads like a track sprinter. You will, however, grow a nicely toned derriere.
5. You can have a second breakfast after your cycling workout.
If you want to ride your bike to work, you’ll have a perfect excuse to enjoy a couple of guilt-free snacks during the day.
Since a half-hour commute can burn between 200 and 500 calories, you’ve earned the right to a smug second breakfast at your desk.
If you’re serious about losing weight, you could ride without eating in the morning – but that’s a routine reserved for the most committed of nutters.
6. Cyclists have better lung health than non-cyclists.
If this argument seems to be at odds with common sense, you’re not alone. However, according to a recent survey, people who travel by bike are exposed to less harmful fumes than those who travel by car.
Air pollution detectors were fitted to a car, a bus user, a pedestrian, and a cyclist using a busy route through central London as part of a study by the Healthy Air Campaign, Kings College London, and Camden Council.
The findings revealed that the driver was five times more polluted than the cyclist, three and a half times more polluted than the walker, and two and a half times more polluted than the bus user. To cut a long story short, the cyclist came out on top.
7. Cycling reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Cycling increases your heart rate and circulates blood around your body while still burning calories, reducing the risk of becoming overweight. As a result, it’s one of the types of exercise that the NHS recommends as safe ways to reduce the risk of major illnesses like heart disease and cancer.
Earlier this year, new research was provided in the form of a report conducted by the University of Glasgow. Over the course of five years, researchers surveyed over 260,000 people and discovered that cycling to work would cut a rider’s risk of heart disease or cancer in half. You can read the whole report here.
“Cycling all or part of the way to work was associated with considerably lower risk of adverse health outcomes,” said Dr. Jason Gill of the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences.
8. Cycling has low physical impact.
Many of the side effects we consider when discussing the advantages of cycling are exercise-related.
Isn’t it more convenient to just go for a run?
Since running is a weight-bearing activity, injury rates are higher. Cycling, unlike running, is not a weight-bearing activity.
When scientists compared long-distance runners and cyclists, they discovered that runners had 133-144 percent more muscle damage, 256 percent more inflammation, and 87 percent more DOMS.
Overuse injuries are less likely to occur while riding, but they can also occur. Skimping on a professional bike fit is a false economy if you end up wasting more money on physiotherapy.
Cycling does not improve bone density as much as other sports due to the lack of weight lifting, so it’s a good idea to incorporate some strength training into your routine.
9. The advantages of cycling include the ability to save time (and money)
Consider the following three scenarios:
Get in the car, sit in traffic, wait in line to get into a parking lot, park, pay for parking, and arrive
Walk to the bus stop, wait for the bus, complain about the bus being late, board the bus (pay), watch as it circles the neighborhood, and arrive about a half mile from your destination.
Get on your bike, navigate through traffic, lock your bike, and arrive.
Short journeys contribute significantly to global emission levels, and they often require a lot of idling when looking at the bumper in front of you. Getting on your bike would save you money on gas and money on public transportation, as well as time.
10. Cycling improves navigational abilities, which is one of the many advantages of cycling.
In the age of car navigation systems and Google maps, there’s not really much reason to hone your innate sense of direction (however superior or otherwise it may be).
And you have a GPS cycling machine with mapping capabilities, such as the Garmin 1000, going out and exploring the lanes will provide important exercise for your internal mapping capabilities, giving you a better understanding of which way is West (with practice).
11. Cycling will help you change your sex life.
Most of us understand that sex is beneficial, but not everyone understands that it is also beneficial to your overall health. In reality, regular sex can help you live longer.
“The typical man who has 350 orgasms a year, against the national average of about a quarter of that, lives around four years longer,” says Dr. Michael Roizen, who chairs the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute. Women’s results were similar to men’s.
So, will cycling help you have a better sex life? It does, however, develop some very important muscle groups. “All of these muscles [worked on the bike] are used during intercourse,” said Dr. Matthew Forsyth, a urologist and avid cyclist from Portland, Oregon. The more these muscles are formed, the longer and more athletic the intercourse will be.”
When you consider that cyclists spend a lot of time flaunting their lumps and bumps in skintight lycra (and sometimes double-oh-AND-seven), you’ve got a formula for success.
12. Cyclists sleep well as a result of their riding.
It’s certainly not rocket science that riding a bike can help you sleep better, but it’s now been confirmed.
Over a 35-year period, researchers at the University of Georgia studied men and women aged 20 to 85 and discovered that a 2% decrease in health for men and 4% for women resulted in sleep problems.
One of the study’s lead authors, Dr. Rodney Dishman, said, “The steepest decrease in cardiorespiratory fitness occurs between the ages of 40 and 60.” This is also when sleep length and consistency issues become more prevalent.”
In search of a cause for the correlation, scientists hypothesized that exercise-induced anxiety reduction improves sleep quality. Exercise also helps to prevent weight gain as people get older, which is another source of sleep problems.
13. Cycling improves your mental acuity.
Exercise has been linked to improved brain function and a decrease in cognitive changes that can lead to dementia later in life.
Cycling increased blood flow in the brain by 28% during exercise, and up to 70% in particular areas, according to a 2013 report. Not only that, but after exercise, blood flow in some areas increased by 40%.
Improved blood flow is beneficial because red blood cells carry a variety of nutrients that keep us safe – and the study concluded that we can cycle for 45-60 minutes four days a week at 75-85% of our maximum ‘heart rate reserve’ (max heart rate minus resting heart rate). Of course, there’s nothing keeping you from riding any further.
14. Cycling increases spatial perception, which is one of the many advantages of cycling.
If you’re riding on Zwift, cycling isn’t just about boosting your heart rate and getting you out of breath.
Gaining the ability to handle these technical elements will give you a huge boost in confidence, particularly once you start to see results. Plus, you may find that your ability to maneuver the shaky shopping cart with the wonky wheels improves dramatically.
15. Cycling will help you expand your social network.
Cycling is a sport that is very social. Grassroots cycling is centered on cycling club culture, which is centered on the Saturday or Sunday club run: many hours of riding at a moderate pace that allows for easy conversation, interrupted occasionally by a cafe stop (or the occasional puncture).
Joining a cycling club or community is a great way to expand your social network, and if you’re new to biking, you’ll likely find all the maintenance and fitness tips you need there as well.