Health Benefits of Cycling
Health benefits of cycling include muscle toning improved cardiovascular health and better blood circulation. These health benefits are the reason behind the consistent popularity of cycling for many years now. Cycling is one of the simplest forms of work out which causes moderate physical activity required by the human body. Cycling is not only an exercise but it is also used as means of transport in many countries. Using cycle helps in incorporating physical activity in daily life. From children to elderly, every person can easily opt for cycling!
Origin of cycling
In the year 1817, the concept of cycling was invented by Baron Karl von Drais. What he invented wasn’t exactly the bicycle that we know and use. He rather invented a walking machine that helped him to walk in the royal gardens faster. This device had wheels but didn’t have any gears, chains and peddles and it moved ahead by pushing feet against the ground. With improvement in technology, this crude device was transformed into the modern day bicycle.
Health benefits of cycling
Human body requires physical activity for normal functioning. At least thirty minutes of moderate to intensive physical activity is very important is required in order to have long-term health benefits. Other than physical health benefits, there are social and mental health benefits that make cycling an enjoyable activity. Some of the health benefits include:
Strengthens and tones muscle
Cycling is an activity that involves loads of paddling. Usually it is assumed that this activity helps in toning the muscles of the calf and thighs but, it is an overall physical workout and involves the movement of every part of body. The arm muscles also strengthen as they are required to balance the cycle. In children, strong improvement in bone and muscle health has been noticed after regular cycling sessions. There are strong evidences to prove that the health of muscles is directly related to cycling. Due to the increased flexibility of muscles, aerobic fitness receives a boost.
During cycling, the heart beats faster than the usual. This exercises the heart and promotes good health. Studies on middle aged men gave positive results on cardiovascular function. Compared to sedentary people, those who took activities such as cycling, walking and running displayed improved cardiovascular function.
Diabetes increases the risk of various other diseases such as heart disease, stroke, skin diseases, ocular diseases, kidney disease and other diseases. Diabetes can be controlled by physical activity which includes cycling. Cycling can be very beneficial in controlling diabetes as the glucose present in the cells is exhausted and the glucose from blood is drawn by the cells and converted into energy.
Building energy levels
Cycling helps with the stamina and gives a boost to the endurance capacity of a person. Energy levels get higher and bring enthusiasm at work. It opens options for other kinds of exercises and fitness activities.
Bicycle riding can be taken up for reducing stress and having fun. Experts say that playing any kind of sport can reduce stress. But, in most cases, playing sports might not be possible for many people. Instead, one can spend time in riding a bicycle which is also equally beneficial in reducing stress and depression.
Cycling helps with pain management. Cycling is considered as a releasing exercise. Releasing exercises play a very important role in alleviating physiological and psychological issues like stress, tension and pain. Cycling is a widely accepted pain-reduction strategy which is mainly implemented on children.
Cycling is an excellent exercise for burning calories. A person cycling with a speed of 10mph burns 260 calories in an hour. Cycling exercises the muscles in front of thighs and buttocks. Regular work-out helps in maintaining lean body structure.
Lowers cancer risk
Incidence of diseases such as cancer can be reduced significantly by adopting physical activities such as cycling and running. Studies show that those people who took up moderate and higher physical activities in early and middle ages, the risk of cancer was reduced. On the other hand, the risk of cancer did not decrease in sedentary people.
Remedy for arthritis
Cycling has been noted to be one of the best exercises in both preventing and reducing arthritis. Outdoor cycling and indoor static cycling are both equally beneficial in reducing and preventing arthritis. Muscles in the thighs and lower legs are used while cycling and their flexing is beneficial in controlling arthritis.
Environment and cycling
Cycling is an environment-friendly mode of transport as it reduces pollution in our neighbourhoods and reduces the emission of green-house gases. Thus, cycling not only promotes good health but also a better environment. Cycling 10kms everyday to work can prevent the emission of at least 1.3 tonnes of greenhouses gases annually. This reduces the risk of many fatal diseases and health issues affecting millions due to air pollution. Passenger cars in cities are the biggest source of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulphur oxides, oxides of nitrogen and hydrocarbons. These harmful gas emissions damage the nervous system and are also responsible for severe respiratory issues. Studies have also revealed that people who cycle are less prone to the ill-effects of pollution as they tend to breathe in less polluted air. Studies have revealed that in Australia every year 900 to 2000 early deaths occur due to air pollution. About 900 to 4500 cases of cardiovascular ailments, bronchitis and other respiratory issues have been reported in Australia every year that cost around 1.5 to 3.8 billion dollars. Cycling is perhaps the only means of transport that does not cause any such diseases, rather helps out those suffering from such issues.
Apart from air pollution, noise pollution also gets eradicated to a huge extent by means of cycling. Cycling is a noiseless mode of transport and thus does not create any noise that can adversely affect the aged and the little ones. A study conducted in the year 1993 in NSW pointed out that 73% of the population exposed to environmental pollution are prey to noise pollution alone. This shows how much impact noise pollution has on human health as well as the environment.
Cycling is no doubt a complete physical activity that has got too many health benefits. However, some precautions must be taken before opting for cycling as a regular sport or mode of transport.
It is important to wear well-fitted clothes for cycling. Loose fitted clothes may get stuck during cycling and cause problems.
Always have plenty of water in hand and drink frequently to suffice for dehydration caused due to physical activity.
Stretching muscles is important as it warms up the body and prepares it for an intense physical activity of cycling.
Wearing helmet is also important. It prevents head injury in case any accident takes place. Also consider wearing appropriate elbow and knee armour.
Cycling is not just a regular physical activity meant for fitness purpose. It is also a mode of transport and thus allows people to remain fit even when they are going out for work, shopping or recreation. The use of modern day transports like cars, motorbikes and buses are definitely making life faster and easier for everybody but they are also reducing the lifespan of people. Incorporating cycling as a part of daily life will definitely change the current scenario of the world by promoting not only human health but also the health of earth.