Cycling Does the Body Good

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It’s important to stay physically active to be fit and healthy. Having a routine exercise is key to preventing diseases or managing an existing health condition. Exercising regularly can help protect against obesity, heart disease, mental illness, arthritis, and other health issues. There are plenty of exercises to assist with maintaining physical fitness. One of my favorite exercises is cycling because it’s so effortless and enjoyable. Cycling does the body good by getting you into shape both physically and mentally.

A little bit of riding each day can make a huge difference in your life. With daily exercise, you can increase your energy and curtail fatigue. It’s recommended that a person should cycle thirty to forty-five minutes each day. And for longer sessions, you can ride a bike for more than one hour for two or three times weekly. Always consult with your physician when considering long periods of exercising. For those that are extremely busy, all you really need is a minimal of ten minutes a day to begin reaping the benefits of cycling.

On average, a person can burn between 450 to 750 calories per hour cycling. To calculate how many calories burned, you must consider your weight, bike speed, and the duration. The more you weigh will require more energy to cycle. Similarly, the faster you peddle the more energy is needed to cycle. And for duration, the more time spent cycling the more calories you’ll burn.

In addition to weight, speed, and duration, the incline of cycling downhill, flat, or uphill will impact your calorie burn. Cycling uphill is a lot harder than cycling downhill or a flat route. As you cycle uphill, your body is working harder against gravity. Because of the harder workout, you don’t need to ride as long a period of time cycling uphill as opposed to a flat route.

Here’s an example of how many calories burned on a one mile bike ride: A person weighing 150 lbs traveling approximately 20 mph would burn about 50 calories per mile. For my math enthusiast out there, the calories burned formula is: METs x 3.5 x body weight in kilograms / 200 = calories burned per minute. “MET” is a measurement of energy cost of a physical activity for a period of time. A leisure bike ride at 5 mph has a MET of 3.5. The formula would work as follows for a person weighing 125 lbs (56.69 kilograms): 3.5 x 3.5 x 56.69 / 200 = 3.47 calories per minute.

If you’re looking to use cycling as a form of exercise to trim down and tone up, know the further you ride, the more calories you will burn. Weight loss is achieved by decreasing calories eaten and increasing calories burned. Diving right into a long bike ride without building up the endurance means there’s a greater level of physical exertion. So word of caution: gradually increase your time on each bike ride to avoid the risk of hurting yourself. With the combination of a regular cycling workout along with a low calorie eating lifestyle, you’ll surely begin to see the pounds shed.

Cyclists are notorious for having gorgeous legs. With that said, don’t be fooled into thinking cycling is just a lower body workout. Yes, cycling does target body areas such as the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. And cycling maintains the mobility of ankle, knee, and hip joints which helps reduce inflammation. The upper body can definitely be incorporated in this workout. Core muscles in the back and abdominal region will be strengthened. As you keep your body upright, the core muscles are supporting your spine. And the shoulders and neck areas will become stronger as you use the handlebars to steer the bike.

Here’s a glimpse of what your muscles are doing while cycling:

Glutes – keeps pelvis stable on the bike and allowing for rotation of the hips.

Core muscles – stabilizes the body to keep you balanced.

Hamstrings – gives the knees ability to bend. The knees are semi-flexed so that the hamstrings can cause force through the joint to help pump the pedals.

Biceps / triceps – supports the body when standing up or leaning forward while pedaling. These muscles are also engaged when changing direction; for example, when turning a corner.

Calves – works in conjunction with the hamstrings and quads to keep legs pedaling. Helps keep the foot firm on the pedal.

Quadriceps – helps straightens the leg to give force needed to push the pedals down.

Surprisingly, riding a bike puts less stress on the back, hips, knees, and ankles than walking. Because cycling is a low impact workout, it’s able to elevate the heart rate without putting too much stress on the joints.

Cycling is an great cardio workout. It lowers high blood pressure, regulate blood sugar, and can prevent heart attacks. Cardio exercises helps increase good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol.

While our physical body is being whipped into shape, improvements are happening with our brain health. You may experience improved cognitive functions. A study has found that during exercise, cyclists’ blood flow in the brain rose about 28%. In general, exercise has been repeatedly linked to brain health. With aging, your brain begins to shrink. Research has shown that reduction in brain volume could be responsible for age-related concerns like poor memory, short attention span, and muscle function deterioration. Enjoying a bike ride a few times a week, may help keep some brain health issues at bay.

Happy riding!

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