Why you should start cycling in 2024

Why you should start cycling in 2024

Why you should start cycling in 2024
Why you should start cycling in 2024

In the ever evolving landscape of health and wellness, one timeless activity continues to stand out as a versatile and accessible means of achieving fitness goals while fostering a sustainable and environmentally conscious lifestyle: Cycling. As we have entered in the year 2024, the countless benefits of cycling have never been more relevant and compelling.

Whether you are seeking a fun and efficient way to stay active, reduce your carbon footprint, or simply explore your surroundings with a newfound sense of freedom, embracing cycling as a part of your routine promises to be a transformative and rewarding decision. Join us on a journey to explore why the wheels of change are turning towards cycling, and discover the myriad reasons why it should become an integral part of your lifestyle in 2024.

What are the health benefits of cycling?

Why you should start cycling in 2024
Why you should start cycling in 2024

Cycling offers an excess of health benefits, making it a full exercise for both physical and mental well-being. Firstly, it is a low-impact aerobic activity that promotes cardiovascular health by enhancing the efficiency of the heart and lungs. Regular cycling helps in managing weight, burning calories, and toning muscles, contributing to improved overall fitness. The activity engages various muscle groups, particularly in the legs, which aids in building strength and endurance.

Additionally, cycling is gentle on the joints, reducing the risk of injuries often associated with high-impact exercises. Beyond the physical advantages, cycling is a potent stress-reliever. The rhythmic pedaling, coupled with exposure to nature, can alleviate mental tension, boost mood, and enhance cognitive function. Commuting by bike also integrates physical activity seamlessly into daily routines, promoting a more active lifestyle. Moreover, the camaraderie of group rides or the solitude of solo cycling can positively impact mental health, fostering a sense of accomplishment and relaxation. Embracing cycling as a regular practice thus not only fortifies the body but also nurtures a balanced and resilient mind.

Why you should start cycling in 2024

Does cycling help weight loss?

Absolutely, cycling is a powerful ally in the pursuit of weight loss. Harvard Medical School attests that a cyclist weighing 83kg, pedaling at a moderate pace of 19-22 Kph, can torch 336 calories in just 30 minutes. This surpasses the calorie burn in activities like tennis or football.

The efficiency of cycling in shedding pounds is further highlighted in studies, such as one in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, demonstrating significant weight and fat mass reduction among sedentary individuals cycling regularly. The cumulative impact of daily cycling is notable, with a University of East Anglia study showing an average weight loss of 7kg (1 stone) over a year for new cycle commuters with a daily journey of 30 minutes or more. In essence, cycling emerges as a dynamic and enjoyable avenue for those seeking effective and sustainable weight loss.

Can cycling target belly fat?

Engaging in cycling serves as a powerful strategy for eliminating belly fat, a factor associated with significant health concerns such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. A study demonstrated that middle-aged men diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes experienced a remarkable 44 per cent reduction in abdominal fat after participating in a combination of endurance and high-intensity cycling for eight weeks.

Another investigation revealed that individuals previously leading sedentary lifestyles witnessed a 12 per cent decrease in visceral adipose tissue, the harmful belly fat surrounding internal organs, after just four weeks of regular cycling. These findings underscore the effectiveness of cycling not only as an enjoyable activity but also as a valuable tool in combatting detrimental abdominal fat and promoting overall health.

What type of bike ride is best? 

Cycling is extremely variable, although it can be loosely divided into low medium and high intensity rides. However, here is the key message:

all bike rides burn fat and strengthen the heart and lungs, just in different ways. “Although there are subtle differences in the specific benefits, in practical terms there is not much to distinguish between these formats,” explains cycling coach Dr. Emma Wilkins of High North Performance, an expert in sports nutrition, physiology and population health. “Just choose the formats that you find enjoyable, as this will foster better consistency, which is by far the biggest factor that regulates whether workout improves fitness and health.”

Whether you prefer long, slow weekend spins, high intensity after work blasts, or the steady routine of bike commuting, Chris Jones says there are no rules to follow. “I never bothered about how far or fast I went,” he says.

Why you should start cycling in 2024

How does cycling change the body?

All in all,, the cycling initiates diverse transformations in the body, fostering a stronger heart and enhanced lung performance. According to Roberts, consistent cycling results in a lean and well-defined shape in the legs, accompanied by alterations in body mass and a reduction in body fat. Beyond the visible physical benefits, there are numerous invisible gains as well. Research indicates that individuals between the ages of 55-79 who engage in cycling produce a comparable number of virus-fighting T cells, crucial for immunity, as their younger counterparts.

This underscores the comprehensive impact of cycling on both the visible aspects of physique and the underlying mechanisms that contribute to overall health and immune function.

Can cycling help running?

Why you should start cycling in 2024
Why you should start cycling in 2024

Surely, cycling can serve as a beneficial complement to running, contributing to overall fitness and enhancing running performance. The low-impact nature of cycling makes it an excellent form of cross-training, allowing for cardiovascular exercise without the repetitive stress on joints associated with running. This can aid in preventing overuse injuries and facilitating active recovery. Beyond its cardiovascular benefits, cycling engages different muscle groups, strengthening the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles, providing a well-rounded muscular workout that complements running.

Also, cycling promotes aerobic conditioning, contributing to improved endurance and reduced tiredness during runs. It offers an opportunity for active recovery between running sessions, easing better blood circulation and muscle recovery. Moreover, the reduced impact on joints makes cycling suitable for individuals recovering from running-related injuries or seeking alternative training options.

Incorporating cycling into a running routine adds variety, preventing monotony and potentially boosting motivation. Striking a balance between both activities can contribute to overall fitness, injury prevention, and enhanced running performance by addressing various aspects of cardiovascular health and muscle development.

Why you should start cycling in 2024

Does air pollution cancel out the benefits of cycling?

The impact of air pollution on the benefits of cycling is a nuanced consideration. While cycling offers numerous health advantages, exposure to air pollution can potentially diminish these benefits. Airborne pollutants, such as particulate matter and pollutants from vehicle emissions, may pose respiratory and cardiovascular risks for cyclists, particularly in urban environments with high pollution levels.

Studies suggest that long-term exposure to air pollution can offset the positive effects of physical activity, potentially leading to adverse health outcomes. Cyclists inhale a higher volume of air during exercise, increasing the intake of pollutants. This raises concerns about the potential negation of cardiovascular and respiratory benefits associated with cycling.

However, it is crucial to recognize that the overall impact depends on various factors, including the individual’s health, the intensity and duration of cycling, and the severity of local air pollution. While air quality concerns exist, the benefits of regular physical activity, including cycling, generally outweigh the risks. Strategies such as choosing less polluted routes, cycling during lower traffic times, and advocating for improved air quality can help mitigate potential health risks associated with cycling in polluted environments.

How do I get into cycling? 

To commence your cycling journey, the initial step involves selecting the most suitable bike for your preferences and intended use, for a road bike if covering long distances at a swift pace is your goal, as they are designed for speed with lightweight frames and aerodynamic, curved handlebars. Mountain bikes, equipped with thicker tires, are ideal for traversing trails and forests.

Hybrid bikes, characterized by flat handlebars and an upright posture, cater to commuting needs. Gravel or adventure bikes combine a light frame with larger tires to conquer diverse terrains, while e-bikes provide motorized support.

Nevertheless, of whether you lean towards social rides or solo cycling, commuting or exploring scenic spots, Dr. Allen suggests tailoring your rides to accommodate your work, family life, stress levels, daylight availability, and personal preferences. For beginners, Dr. Wilkins recommends starting with low-intensity rides for the first three to six weeks, gradually building up from 20-30 minutes to an hour or more.

Include medium or high-intensity sessions as you progress, ensuring a sustainable approach rather than pursuing crash diets or fleeting commitments. To foster consistency, Dr. Allen advises finding a fun and sustainable riding routine, emphasizing the importance of a gradual, enduring pattern rather than sporadic bursts of intensity.

A recommended guideline is two or three rides per week, with up to two days of rest in between each session. Dr. Wilkins further suggests varying the intensities, such as incorporating one of each per week, for a well-rounded and effective cycling regimen.

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