The Effects of Cycling on Our Body

The Effects of Cycling on Our BodyA pastime that has seen immense growth recently thanks (in part) to the grand success of the 2012 olympic games, cycling is an affordable, exciting, rewarding and (most importantly) fun activity that is also fantastic exercise. Of course, it won’t exactly be news to anyone that cycling can have an incredibly positive effect on your body, but what specific effects is it having and are they all necessarily positive?

These are questions worth asking and are questions we’ll attempt to answer in this short blog.

Heart

One of the most important organisms in our bodies, our hearts can be seriously damaged by a sedentary lifestyle. Cycling can really help strengthen the heart by training it to  be able to cope with more strenuous physical exertion. It’s estimated that regular cyclists are 50% less likely to suffer a heart attack than non cyclists and blood pressure is also lowered significantly in most riders.

So saddle up! Your lungs too should really feel the benefit thanks to the positive effects on your respiratory system, which will lead to more refined lung ventilation.

Mental Health

Cycling can also be a great boon to a riders mental well being. The uniform, (aptly) cyclical movements have been shown to stabilise emotional fluctuations, counteract stress, anxiety and depression. Of course it’s not a ‘miracle cure’ by any means, but when the winds ripping through your hair and your wheels are cutting through the ground beneath you like butter it can be an oddly calming experience.

Weight Loss

The amount of calories you burn whilst cycling obviously depend on numerous factors (how fast you’re peddling, the incline and the persons weight) but regardless, more calories will be burned than when you’re walking, simply because you’re using more parts of your body. Even leisurely, recreational biking can result in some serious weight loss with an average of 300 calories being burnt every hour when cycling at a moderate pace. If you really want to shed those extra pounds though you might want to consider mountain biking where the more challenging terrain and steeper inclines will really work your body.

You won’t want to jump straight into mountain biking mind you (at least its not recommended) as you’re better off first improving your overall stamina, strength and endurance. After all, you don’t want to give yourself a heart attack half way up a mountain do you? Of course, if weight loss is the primary reason for your new found cycling habit there’s no need to limit yourself to the outdoors either. Stationary cycling on an exercise bike can be just as beneficial (though it’s nowhere near as fun).

Muscles

During cycling, almost all of the bodies muscles are ‘activated’. Your leg muscles are used to power the pedals, your back muscles are used to keep your body stable on the saddle and your shoulder and arm muscles are used to support yourself with the handlebars. All this effort will go a long way towards strengthening your muscles and even increasing muscle tone and definition. For older riders this is particularly beneficial as when we age, our muscles tend to shrink by as much as 50% if left inactive for too long.

The Commute

We’re not necessarily just talking intense mountain biking here, even simply cycling to work can have beneficial effects. For example, it’s estimated that the average person will lose over 10 pounds in a year from riding to work and logistically and financially the savings you’ll make both in your wallet and to the environment will prove invaluable.

Joints

Cycling is wonderful for strengthening bone cartilage so that the force exerted on our bones by our bodies is far less destructive. This is especially helpful for those in the early stages of arthritis.

The Negatives

So does cycling have any negative effects on the body? Only if you overdo it or you really shouldn’t be on a bike in the first place. Of course there are always potential accidents to contend with (especially if you’re cycling in the city) and there have been certain sexual ailments linked to male cyclists due to the pressure being placed on the genitals by the average bike seat. Accidents are rarer now than they ever have been though and as long as you wear a helmet and invest in a wider, more comfortable bike seat you should be fine.

We’ve only really scratched the surface here but simply put, for most people cycling is pastime that can be as relaxing or as demanding as you want it to be but either way, your body will seriously feel the benefits!

This article was written by Amy from 50 Cycles. 50 Cycles specialise in Electric Bikes but are passionate about all kinds of cycling and try to spread the word about the benefits of cycling as much as possible. Amy contributes by managing their blog and writing cycling related articles for a variety of blogs.

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