We’ve pedalled well into 2019 now and after the somewhat pain staking process of heading back to work, it’s time to start thinking about our goals for the year. One of your New Year’s resolutions might be to improve your health, exercise more, or get back on your bike, but sticking to it might not be so easy.
Here at The Bicycle Hub we want to give you a hand getting back on the saddle, so we’ve put together a list of all the reasons of how cycling can improve your health in 2019…
Many of us simply don’t have the time to take on extra activities like going to the gym or to fitness classes. Whether it’s work, children or a different aspect of life holding you back, it’s important to find a type of exercise that works in your schedule.
Many of us have a commute that could easily be cycled, and if you’re driving through a town in rush hour you might even beat the standstill queues. Plus, if you usually walk to work, you’ll get there faster! By cycling to work, you’re not only getting in some exercise but also reducing your carbon footprint and not producing the pollution that you would driving a car.
If you don’t have a commute that can easily be cycled, it’s quite easy to get out on a bike if you can find a spare half an hour. The NHS recommends that we do 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week, so you can always try getting out for 30 minutes every weekday or just 22 minutes if you want to get out 7 days a week.
Cycling is best done outdoors and spending some time outside every day is proven to be great for your physical health. Fresh air helps clear your airways and clean your lungs, and it can also help you digest food more effectively, improve blood pressure and strengthen the immune system. Fresh air is also great for your mental health and can give you more energy. Research shows that being surrounded by nature increases energy in 90% of people.
The average person burns 450 to 750 calories per hour of cycling, so if you’re aiming to head out for just 30 minutes every day you can burn over 200 extra calories. If your New Year’s resolution is all about shifting the pounds then cycling is a great, low impact way to do that. To know that you’re riding at the right pace, you should aim for the kind of speed that leaves you out of breath but still able to have a conversation. The best bit about burning extra calories is that, if you’re not looking to lose weight, you can enjoy more guilt-free snacks!
Alongside burning calories through cycling, you’re bound to build some muscle and tone up. Your quads, glutes and calf muscles are all going to get stronger, and if you frequently stand in the saddle, your arms and shoulders should get a good workout too. The more muscle mass you build, the easier it is to burn fat too.
Getting a good night’s sleep is essential because sleep and health are closely related. Our bodies need a well-deserved rest, so they can conserve energy, slow down our heart rate and breathing and regulate our temperatures. It’s recommended that adults need around 8 hours each night, and cycling can help you hit that target.
Physical activity is tiring and if you’re tired at the end of the day you’re naturally more likely to get to sleep quickly, but scientists have suggested another reason behind the fact that exercise helps you sleep better. The reduction in anxiety that exercise facilitates can also help you sleep as anxiety is one of the main causes of insomnia. Exercise also helps you avoid weight gain with age, which is another form of sleep dysfunction as it can cause sleep apnoea.
Reducing anxiety isn’t the only way that cycling can help to improve your mental wellbeing. Almost every form of exercise causes the release of adrenalin and endorphins, which boosts your mood. If you’re new to cycling, it can also boost your self-esteem as this often comes with trying new things.
Another thing that can come with cycling is an increased social circle which improves confidence and increases happiness. It’s not only a great way to get the family out and about, you can become a member of the Cycling UK Member Group. We even have a group in the local area called the Cheltenham CTC.