Is Cycling Really That Effective?
This is the perfect time of year to consider giving the treadmill a break and trying something with a few more wheels. Established in 1956, National Bike Month is a time to showcase the benefits of cycling and encourage everyone to give cycling a try. Whether you’re hitting the trails or finding the perfect group cycling class, cycling will revolutionize your health.
But don’t worry, if you do not own a bike or you live in an area where cycling may be dangerous or difficult, Xperience Fitness offers four different cycling classes.
- Cyclesculpt combines indoor cycling, off-the-bike strength training, and core training. With this class, you are guaranteed to get the ultimate total-body circuit training program that allows you to experience an incredible aerobic workout, while also strengthening your upper body and core.
- Ride incorporates intervals and sprints designed to build your endurance, power, and speed.
- RPM is a pre-choreographed cycling workout where you get to ride to the rhythm of powerful music.
- Sprint is a 30-minute high-intensity interval training cycling workout. Don’t let the length of time fool you, this is an intense class that will force you to push your mental and physical limits. Even after this class ends, your body will continue torching calories for hours.
Still not convinced? Check out 9 benefits of cycling below.
Promotes weight loss
The equation for losing weight is deceivingly simple for what turns out to be a pretty difficult task; calories out must exceed calories in. Cycling can burn anywhere between 400 and 1000 calories in one hour, depending on the intensity and rider weight.
Cycling does not just burn fat, it also builds muscle. In the downstroke phase of pedaling, you use your gluteus muscles in the buttocks, the quadriceps in the thighs, and the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in the calves. In the backstroke, up-stroke, and overstroke phase, you use the hamstrings in the back of the thighs and the flexor muscles in the front of the hips. Additionally, cycling works your abdominal muscles to balance and stay upright and your arm and shoulder muscles to hold the handlebars and steer.
Reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer
Cycling provides a multitude of benefits for the body; it increases your heart rate and gets your blood pumping, burns calories, and limits your chance of being overweight. As a result of all of these benefits, it is among a selection of exercises recommended by the National Health Service as being a healthy way to reduce your risk of developing major illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.
A study conducted by the University of Glasgow found in studying 260,000 individuals that cycling to work can cut a rider’s risk of developing heart disease or cancer in half.
It is easy on the joints
While it certainly takes less equipment to go on a run, cycling has the added benefit of being a low-impact sport. Running is a weight-bearing sport because you put your weight on your legs, whereas cycling is not weight bearing because the weight is put on a pair of bones in the pelvis called the ischial tuberosities.
Scientists compared a group of long-distance runners to cyclists and found that runners suffered 133-144 percent more muscle damage, 265 percent more inflammation and delayed onset muscle soreness was 87 percent higher.
Boosts brain power
It is no secret exercise increases your mental capacities, and cycling is no exception. A 2013 study found that while exercising, cyclists’ blood flow in the brain rose by 28 percent, and up to 70 percent in specific areas. Even after the workout ended, in some areas of the brain, the blood flow remained up by 40 percent. The study concluded that you should cycle for 45-60 minutes four times a week, at 75-80 percent of your max heart rate reserve, which can be calculated by subtracting your resting heart rate from your max heart rate.
Strengthens your immune system
Do you consistently find yourself down with a cold? Studies have found that by doing aerobic exercises most days of the week, people can knock their sick days down by about 40 percent.
Even mild exercise can improve our immune system by increasing the production of essential proteins and waking up white blood cells. However, immediately after an intense exercise, your immune system is lowered. Adequate recovery like eating and sleeping well will reverse this effect.
Helps with everyday activities
The benefits of cycling carry over to walking, standing, balance, endurance, and climbing stairs.
Strengthens your bones
Resistance activities, like pushing pedals, pull on your muscles, which, in turn, pull on your bone, increasing bone density.
Grows your social circle
Cycling is a very social sport, whether you are hitting the pavement or trying out an indoor group class. The social aspect of cycling is nearly as important as the fitness element. A nine-year study conducted by Harvard Medical School found those with the most friends cut the risk of an early death by more than 60 percent due to friendships reducing blood pressure and strengthening the immune system. The researchers found the results to be so significant, they concluded not having close friends or confidants is as detrimental to your health as smoking or carrying extra weight.