With the Christmas bulge making an appearance and that New Year’s resolution we make every year - getting in shape for the year, it’s time to turn the resolution into action.
For fitness, for work or for fun - there are many reasons why we cycle. Not only is riding enjoyable, but just 30 minutes of it each day brings a whole host of health benefits. Cycling is a low-impact exercise, so it's great for anybody (young and old, fit or not) and the intensity of a ride can be easily altered or you can build up as you go. Why not make it a New Year’s resolution to use your bike to improve your fitness, strength and body shape? Here are a few great ways your bike can help improve your health, inside and out.
Better brain, healthy head
Starting from the top, we begin with the brain – the powerhouse of your thoughts, feelings and actions. It's no surprise that getting outside and gulping in some fresh air will help clear your head, wake you up and improve your mood. It's scientifically proven that exercise releases endorphins – the feel-good chemical that makes us happy, as well as reducing or combating depression, stress and anxiety. The extra flow of oxygen to your grey matter can also improve creativity, workload, time management, and motivation.
Lovely lungs, happy heart
When you're cycling at a moderate pace, you're using 10 times more oxygen than you would while sitting in front of the TV. We know this oxygen is great for the brain, and it's even better for the organs employed to help you breathe. Regular outings on your bike strengthens your cardiovascular system, which allows your heart and lungs to work quicker and more efficiently. Your lung capacity will increase and the risk of heart disease is reduced by almost a half if you cycle more than 30km a week – that’s less than 5km per day!
Improved immunity, beautiful blood
Moderate exercise makes your body's immune system more active, making it better at fighting infections and helping you recover quicker from illnesses. Those with high blood pressure will find that regular cycling will lower blood pressure to a healthy level – which reduces the risk of heart attacks, strokes, eye problems and kidney failure.
Fight fat, amass muscle
Especially for those who have trouble with running, cycling provides an all-over body workout that burns fat while building up muscles in the legs, arms, and torso. Exercise quickens the metabolic rate (the efficiency of the body to burn calories and fat), even burning calories and fat for hours afterward. Try incorporating fast intervals to lose weight quicker, or building the workout intensity at your own pace. Don't push yourself too hard, too fast – it will do more damage than good.
Fun with family and friends
Cycling is a sport everyone can join in with and enjoy. You may even make some new friends! Having a buddy or family member to ride with gives that extra motivation to push yourself and you can support each other to go further or harder. It's never too early to get kids involved, even if they're just in a seat on your bike. Kids love getting out and expending energy – see our blog about carrying kids on your bike and invest in an age/size appropriate bike and helmet of their own.
Protect the planet, live longer
Cycling to work every day means one less car on the road, and every little bit helps when it comes to creating a sustainable future for the planet and the coming generations.
Compared to a car, you get over 1,000 kms to every litre of "fuel". You're also more likely to live longer, as your regular cycling reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even cancer. You'll sleep better, have healthier bowels and an increased sex drive.
Even if you just cycle for fun or commute to work, you'll be pleased to know the positive effects of cycling – we hope it motivates you to keep at it in 2016 and encourage friends and family as well. Has cycling helped with your health? We'd love to hear about it in a comment below.