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The health benefits of Cycling

Posted by Sinead Brogan on

Sinead Brogan is a Chartered Physiotherapist and runs FlexPhysio Physiotherapy Clinic at Whelehans Pharmacy, Pearse St, Mullingar. To book an appointment or ask a question call Sinead at 083 1722171


Cycling is an easy way to exercise
A bicycle can be cycled almost anywhere, at any time of the year, and without spending loads of money on equipment. Many people are put off doing certain sports because of the high level of skill that seems to be required, or perhaps because they can’t commit to a team sport due to time pressures. The same is not true for cycling. All you need is a bike, a half an hour here or there, and a bit of confidence.

Cycling builds strength and muscle tone
Contrary to normal perceptions, cycling is not a fitness activity that solely involves the legs. Cycling builds strength in a holistic manner since every single part of the body is involved in cycling.

Cycling increases muscle tone
Cycling improves general muscle function gradually, with little risk of over exercise or strain. Regular cycling strengthens leg muscles and is great for the mobility of hip and knee joints. You will gradually begin to see an improvement in the muscle tone of your legs, thighs, bottom and hips.

Cycling improves cardio-vascular fitness
Cycling makes the heart pound in a steady manner and helps improve cardiovascular fitness. Studies have shown that cycling to work will increase cardiovascular fitness by up to 7%. Cycling uses the largest muscle groups the legs, raising heart rate to benefit stamina and fitness.

Cycling builds stamina
Cycling is a good way to build stamina. Any cardiovascular exercise (including cycling) can help stamina for other sports such as running, swimming, football, etc. If you run or walk a lot to get fit, it is good to cycle or swim on recovery days, so you are exercising your heart and lungs without the pounding on your legs and feet. Cycling as a part of your overall fitness program is a great base to have.

Cycling uses up high amounts of calories
Cycling is a good way to lose excess weight. Steady cycling burns approximately 300 calories per hour. Cycling for 30 minutes every day would burn nearly a stone of fat per year. Since it helps build muscle, cycling will also boost your metabolic rate long after you’ve finished the cycle so you continue to burn calories even when resting after.

Cycling improves heart health
According to the British Medical Association; cycling just 20 miles a week can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (like heart attacks) by 50%. A major study of 10,000 civil servants suggested that those who cycled 20 miles over the period of a week were half as likely to suffer heart disease as their non-cycling colleagues.

Cycling improves coordination
Cycling is an activity that involves the whole body. Therefore, arm-to-leg, feet-to-hands and body-to-eye coordination are improved. This can help other aspects of your life including your work performance and performance in other sports.

Cycling reduces stress
Any regular exercise can reduce stress and depression. Exercise releases serotonin naturally, your body’s natural anti-depressant.

Consult your health professional
Most people can cycle, however, it is still best to consult your doctor or physiotherapist when thinking about starting back cycling (especially if you haven’t done it in years). They can advise you regarding your limits and capacities and what you should avoid doing.

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