Going For A Ride - The Benefits Of Biking

Biking in Central Park, NYC

Cycling is fantastic exercise, benefiting your overall health and fitness. As a regular activity, cycling can be exceptionally good for cardiovascular fitness, as well as toning muscles, improving physique, and boosting body image. And it can help to improve muscle tone and strength, especially in one's core.

For substantial health benefits, The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that adults should try to perform 2-3 hours of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic activities per week. Research and our own eyes indicate that more people than ever are now into biking, and research continues to link it with improved fitness and lower risks of certain conditions.

The Healthy Benefits of Biking

1. Cardiovascular health

Many researchers note that cycling can help improve heart health. For example, one 2017 study suggests that people who cycle to work experience notable health benefits, including improved cardiovascular functioning. In addition to a 46% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, commuters who cycle to work also have a 52% lower risk of dying from the condition. The results of the study also indicate that as well as improving heart health, cycling to work may reduce the risk of developing cancer. Don't forget your helmet!

2. Blood pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Some experts suggest that physical activity such as cycling could be the primary therapy to prevent these conditions. Cycling may also help reduce blood pressure over a period of time. A 2017 study adds that cycling is an effective method to lower blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes.

3. Weight management

A 2019 systematic review indicates that cycling is a useful exercise to help reduce body fat and body mass. If a person wishes to lose weight, having a good diet and getting adequate exercise are both vital. Evidence suggests that based on a person’s body type, one can burn up to 300 calories per hour by biking at a moderate pace. If a person increases the intensity, they can burn even more calories in less time.

4. Lung health

Cycling can also help improve cardiorespiratory health. An older study, from 2011, notes that cycling for about 170–250 minutes per week can greatly improve health. Other research also notes that physical activity can help the immune system protect a person from respiratory infections such as SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may incorporate cycling as part of their pulmonary rehabilitation program.

5. Mental health

In a sample of more than a million people in the U.S., exercise such as cycling was linked to improved mental health. A 2019 study highlighted a link between the two, as well as improvements in some cognitive functions. In addition to improving cognitive function, regular exercise may help reduce anxiety and depression.

6. Fitness levels

Many guidelines recommend performing regular aerobic exercise, cycling can be particularly useful for fitness, as people can change the intensity to suit their needs. One 2017 study suggests that people who bike often or who incorporate cycling into their physical activities are typically fitter than people who do other physical activities.

7. Low impact

Cycling is a low-impact form of exercise, making it a safer choice for older adults and people with weak or damaged joints.

8. Environmentally friendly

Cycling is the most sustainable mode of urban transportation and causes virtually no environmental damage. Biking also takes up little space and is economical for cyclists and public infrastructure. This makes it environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable.

9. Balance and coordination

Cycling can stimulate motor regions in the central nervous system and activate the cerebral cortex, which may help improve motor learning and balance. Cycling can also help a person improve their core stability, which can help prevent injuries.

10. Easy to pick up

Cycling is also a relatively easy and affordable type of physical activity to start. It does not require any major skills, and it combines mobility with physical activity, making it accessible to large segments of the population.

Be Safe & Not Scared

Many people avoid riding their bikes due to myriad safety concerns. However, there are various ways to make your bike and riding safer, See below:

Clear it with your doctor: People with certain medical conditions should discuss the safety of biking with their PCP. Indoor cycling or a spin class may be a safer alternative.

Author
Dr. Mark L. Meyer Dr. Meyer graduated from Haverford College with a Bachelor of Science, High Honors, in cellular and molecular biology, Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude. He attended the Yale University School of Medicine, where he also completed a categorical residency in Internal Medicine, served for one year as an Emergency Department attending physician, and held the title of Clinical Instructor in the Department of Surgery. During this time, Dr. Meyer obtained a J.D. from the Yale Law School, concentrating on medical ethics, scientific research law, and FDA law. He then completed a fellowship in Cardiovascular Diseases at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he obtained Level 3 Nuclear Cardiology training.

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