Cycling is a great low-impact aerobic exercise that people of all ages can enjoy.
All you need to get your cycling routine started is a good bicycle and the right protective gear.
You can get on a bike and go to work, the local grocery store, or just take a tour of your neighborhood. Or you can explore hills and try other tough terrains to add to the level of difficulty.
Wherever you cycle, the benefits of cycling are evident in not only improved stamina and toned legs but also better mood levels, strength, balance, cardiovascular health, and more.
If you’ve been thinking about adding cycling to your workout routine but wish to know more about its health benefits, this guide will tell you all about the effect of cycling on body shape and overall health.
If you’re looking to reduce weight with cycling, go ahead.
Cycling increases metabolism, builds muscle, works your abdominal muscles, and burns fat throughout your body. This makes it great for healthy weight management.
It takes longer to tone your body with cycling than running, but you can be sure of long-lasting results. Also, cycling is low-impact. So you don’t feel its strain on your body as much as other forms of exercise like running.
Regular cycling burns about 300 calories per hour. You can choose to cycle twice a day to double the health benefits.
But while you may be tempted to cycle at high intensity to amp up the weight loss benefits further, cycling at low intensity burns more fat than high-intensity cycling.
You can also incorporate sprint and strength training into your cycling routine to temporarily increase your metabolic rate and build muscle. This helps you burn a higher percentage of calories throughout the day, even while you’re resting.
But note that to sustain the weight loss benefits of cycling, you must also focus on improving your sleep patterns and consuming a healthy, nutritious diet.
A sedentary lifestyle spells trouble for health. Exercising regularly is the key to staying active and healthy.
When your body is active and fit, it is better able to prevent health issues from cropping up and also manage prevailing medical conditions.
Engaging in regular cycling and other forms of exercise can help you avoid or mitigate heart conditions including heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure.
Cycling also stimulates the heart and lungs, lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It strengthens and improves your heart muscles and decreases blood fat levels. Research suggests that people who cycle to work are less exposed to pollution than car commuters, which, in turn, improves their lung function.
Cycling may also help ward off and manage type 2 diabetes. Research shows that cycling regularly may result in a 24% lower mortality rate in people with diabetes and continuing cycling for more than 5 years can reduce the risk of mortality by 35%.
Cycling and other exercise forms can also reduce the chance of developing bowel cancer and breast cancer.
Legs And Lower Body
Cycling works your lower body and leg muscles without putting much strain on your joints. It improves the functioning of the lower body and strengthens the muscles of your legs while you enjoy your fun workout.
The continuous pedaling motion during cycling specifically targets and tones your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves, giving you a well-shaped and leaner lower body and legs.
To build muscle and strengthen your legs further, you can do weight training exercises like leg presses, squats, and lunges two or three times per week. This will also help you improve your cycling performance.
Cycling can step in as a wonderful core and cardio exercise. While you burn off calories as you cycle, the pedaling movement also strengthens your core muscles along with your abs and back.
Cycling helps keep your body upright and aligned and improves balance and stability. You need to use plenty of your core strength to control the cycle while you ride, especially if you’re riding on tough terrains like hills and uneven surfaces. This makes you work out your core muscles more and build strength and endurance.
But you may need to adjust your saddle and handlebars to help you improve your form and posture and maximize your core workout while cycling.
If you wish to intensify your core workout further, you can also throw in a couple of additional core exercises like the forearm plank, glute bridge, and even simple crunches post your cycling routine.
You may think that your legs and lower body get the most workout during cycling.
But your arms have to control and navigate your bicycle as you turn bends and corners, climb hills, and deal with uneven surfaces. Your arms also support your legs to pedal hard and continuously.
Using force to pull on the bars of your bike helps tone your arms, including your biceps, triceps, and deltoids.
Hilly terrains are fantastic for a proper arm workout, as you will have to apply double the amount of force than you would have to on smooth roads.
On the other hand, cycling on roads may seem easy. But it involves maintaining a steady position continuously, which helps in building and toning the muscles in the upper body. This is because your upper body is key to maintaining balance and posture while riding.
Building your arm muscle in this way also gradually reduces the amount of pain you feel while cycling, helping you maintain your form and position for even longer and cycle for longer hours.
When it comes to your upper body, the benefits of cycling are not restricted to only your arms and core.
Your shoulders, too, get a good workout with cycling. This is because you need to hold your shoulders in position for long intervals so that your arms remain straight while riding.
To properly exercise your shoulders on a bike, push your shoulders back and adjust the height of your handlebars till you find it comfortable. This will strengthen your shoulders more and allow them to support your arms for a longer duration, helping you surpass your previous cycling limits.
However, avoid slumping your shoulders forward while cycling as it will cause muscle stiffness. If you feel any soreness or pain in your muscles after a cycling session, let your body rest and recover so that you can enjoy your next ride better.
The effect of cycling on body shape may be well documented. But cycling has benefits for your mental health, too.
If you’re feeling down in the dumps or you can’t focus on work and other matters, dust your bike and cycle around town or just your block for at least 10 minutes.
Cycling is great for mental health and can help ease stress, anxiety, and depression when done regularly. It also helps release endorphins in your body, which work to improve your mood and reduce stress levels.
Cycling outside is known to enhance brain functioning and mental well-being among older adults. It can even reduce the cognitive changes that may lead to dementia and other brain disorders later in life.
Cycling also stimulates your brain to improve blood circulation throughout your body, leading to a healthy and active body and mind.
Moreover, bringing your attention to the road or your posture and form while you navigate your route on a bike can help you direct your focus and awareness to the present moment. This can help you take your mind off things and learn to deal with stressful situations in a healthier way.
You can also process your thoughts and emotions better when riding solo and gain new perspectives. Alternatively, you may choose to ride with friends or a cycling group and reap the health benefits of socialization.
Cycling, especially for long hours or on tough terrains, may also help build mental strength and fitness by helping you become more resilient and perseverant. You will then be able to apply this to other areas of life and achieve more.
The overall mental health benefits from regular cycling can also enhance your confidence and happiness levels and improve your life further.
The pandemic has taught us more about the importance of our immune systems than ever.
Exercising regularly—cycling or any other form of workout—can enhance your immunity. Exercise keeps the upper respiratory system healthy and lowers your chances of contracting the common cold.
Cycling promotes the production of essential proteins and activates the white blood cells, thereby boosting the immune system.
Cycling also enhances our body’s cellular functions. It encourages our thymus to produce T-cells, a type of immune cell that helps fight new infections. T-cells decrease once we hit our twenties, so cycling definitely helps if you’re above twenty.
Research has found that older adults (between 55 and 79 years old) who engaged in regular cycling produced a similar number of T-cells as those in their early twenties.
You may have always known that a good cycling session promotes restful sleep. But now there’s research to back you.
Researchers at the University of Georgia conducted a study on men and women between the age of 20 and 85 years over a duration of 35 years. They found that a 2% decrease in fitness for men and a 4% decline in fitness for women led to sleep issues.
The study further suggested that those who follow an exercise routine enjoy better sleep and may have reduced stress and anxiety levels.
Exercise also reduces the chances of weight gain with age. This helps protect older adults from sleep apnea, which may be related to weight gain.
Regular aerobic exercise like cycling also helps the heart pump blood more efficiently and increases blood circulation while relaxing your muscles. This further helps to improve the quality of sleep.
The production of Vitamin D due to exposure to the sun while cycling helps boost mood and sleep.
So if you often struggle to fall asleep, try cycling to help ease your mind and improve your sleep hygiene.
An intense cycling session may make your body feel tired and sore.
But, in reality, it increases your energy levels. Cycling more will lead to increased stamina and vitality.
The increase in energy may seem marginal at first. But over time, you’ll find that your body wears out less and you have more energy to burn.
This will not only help you enhance your cycling performance and duration but also improve your energy and focus at work.
Cycling is a wonderful way to get in shape and improve your physical and mental fitness. It gives you a complete body and mind workout and keeps you active.
Biking also allows you to explore the world around you and discover new sights, sounds, and experiences. Riding in groups may widen your social circle.
Remember to be careful when cycling on busy roads and avoid outdoor cycling when the weather is unfavorable.
Whether you cycle indoors or outdoors, do it regularly and incorporate it into your daily exercise routine to reap its complete benefits.
We hope our article helped you understand the effect of cycling on body shape and health and encourages you to start a cycling routine. If you know of any other benefits of cycling, do share them with us in the comments below.
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Last Updated on July 18, 2022 by Matthew Carpenter