Page Description: When it comes to fitness and wellness, aerobic exercises play a significant role. They help to improve heart conditioning, and slow down or prevent the development of heart-related diseases, hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes, stroke, metabolic syndrome/insulin resistance syndrome, some types of cancers, and other health issues.
An exercise is aerobic when it requires oxygen to break down fat and carbohydrate into energy utilized in body movement. There are different forms of aerobic exercises. However, in this article, we’ll be looking at cycling as the ultimate aerobic.
What is cycling?
Cycling is simply riding a bicycle. It is both a sport and a kind of exercise. As a sport, it involves a group of people riding bicycles or bikes with the end goal of winning. While as exercise, it’s a physical activity that helps a person stay fit and maintain wellness.
Cycling helps to build endurance and strengthen the muscles of the lower body. When cycling as an exercise, people use stationary bikes since it’s indoors. However, there is no difference between the health benefits obtained from biking outside and riding stationary bikes.
Health benefits of cycling
Here’s a list of health benefits associated with cycling training
1. Improved heart health
Cycling helps to speed up breathing, leading to an increase in heart rate. It also enhances blood circulation, improves heart function, and promotes flexibility.
Cycling is associated with lowering mortality rate because it improves good cholesterol levels that lower the rate of developing high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, physiological issues, and other heart-related issues.
- Weight loss
Fat is hard to burn than glucose, making weight loss more stressful. However, high-intensity cycling helps to enhance metabolism which breaks down fat, leading to a low body fat level and improved weight management.
- Boost brain power and mental health
Cycling promotes the secretion of endorphins which helps to ease anxiety, stress, and depression, leading to mood improvement. It also helps to build focus, and take your mind off the chaos in your head. Some studies link biking to improved cognition and overall body wellness for adults. Hence, cycling is beneficial to people in the early, mid-stage, and later stages of life.
- Strengthen the bones and muscles
Cycling works on the bones and muscles of the arms and legs. It strengthens the muscles without overworking the calves, hamstrings, glutes, and quad muscles without overworking joints.
- Boost mood
Cycling promotes blood circulation, which charges the body’s energy systems for the day’s work. Completing a cycling session, especially at the start of the day, also gives a sense of accomplishment and makes set for the daily tasks ahead.
- Improve balance, coordination, and posture
Body balance declines as one ages without engaging in physical activities like exercise. Cycling works mainly on your legs which helps to enhance your grip on the ground, which prevents you from falling and sustaining injuries. Body balance promotes body coordination, which helps to straighten your posture and enhances overall body activity.
- Prevents health issues
Regular cycling, like other forms of exercise, helps prevent stroke, heart attack, and high blood pressure. It also helps to manage type 2 diabetes, prevent breast and colon cancer and helps people recovering from cancer build their energy.
Cycling and medical conditions
Cycling is a great way to manage health conditions because they have a low impact on the body. Cycling does not overwork your body, making it great for people with chronic health issues. People recovering from health issues can also engage in cycling. Let’s look at some health conditions and how cycling helps to manage them.
Cycling increases the body’s metabolic rate, burns fat, and builds muscles which is a great way to lose weight. While weight loss is not all about losing body fat, burning fat can be very difficult. So, a comfortable exercise like cycling promotes fat loss and is great for accomplishing your weight loss journey.
Studies suggest burning about 2000 calories per week through exercise. Consistent cycling burns about 300 calories per hour, making it the best choice for people wanting to lose weight.
Cycling reduces resting pulse and blood fat levels and strengthens the heart muscles. It also improves heart condition, blood circulation, and lung circulation, which helps to prevent the development of heart diseases like stroke, hypertension, and heart attack.
Type 2 diabetes is becoming a serious health issue as the rate of people living with it is rising. Many researchers claim that a major cause of this disease is a lack of exercise or physical activities. Research also discovered that cycling for over 30 minutes daily reduces the risk of developing diabetes. Hence, consistent cycling is recommended to help manage the disease.
Arthritis and bone injury
Cycling is a comfortable exercise that does not overwork the joints, making it the best choice for people with arthritis and bone injury. Cycling has a low impact on the body. It improves balance, coordination, and strength which helps someone recovering from arthritis and bone injury to heal and stay physically active.
Cycling boosts mental health and helps to manage mental illness. When cycling, the body loses toxic substances through sweat and secretes hormones that help to protect and stabilize your brain. The happy feeling you get when cycling helps to distract you from mental disturbance, and eases you from any form of anxiety, depression, or stress.
Research shows that regular cycling prevents and slows the development of cancers such as breast and colon cancer. Cycling is also great for people recovering from cancer. Cancer treatment can be dense on the body and can lead to low body energy levels. However, with cycling, you can build back strength; it’s comfortable and not strenuous.
How often should I cycle?
According to the American Heart Association, at least 30 minutes of cycling per day is recommended to lower the risk of hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart diseases. Cycling intensity should range between moderate to high-intensity exercises to help improve heart conditioning and help manage weight.
When cycling, there’s no need to take breaks in between sessions except if you have joint issues or cycle at high intensity like people who do marathon cycling. For people with joint pain, alternate cycling with other less painful exercises like walking to create balance. Walking is an aerobic exercise. So, walking for 10 to 30 minutes can serve for someone alternating cycling with walking.
What is Cycling intensity?
Cycling intensity refers to how intense or how hard you cycle. Different factors contribute to the intensity of cycling. They include the goal for cycling, fitness level, and limitations. Someone who is healthy and is cycling to maintain fitness will have a higher cycling intensity when compared with someone who’s just recovering from an ailment and is trying to build strength.
When accessing cycling intensity, consider your heart rate, speed, power, and rate of perceived exertion. You can monitor your intensity using power meters like smart trainers, rate of perceived exertion (RPE) scales, and heart rate monitors. Measuring your intensity using heart rate can be challenging, especially for people on medication because some drugs cause the heart rate to fluctuate.
Cycling for interval training
Interval training helps to boost grip and strength when you are fit. For interval training, start with low intensity for 10 minutes, then switch to medium intensity for 10 minutes. After that, switch to high-intensity for 2 minutes, then low-intensity for 2 minutes. Continue to alternate between low and high -intensity for the next 20 to 30 minutes, then finish with low intensity for about 5 to 10 minutes.
Cycling for starters
If you are a beginner in cycling, start with moderate or low-intensity cycling, then gradually increase your intensity as you progress. For those who are cycling for fitness, you can start with 20 to 35 minutes of cycling, and as you progress you can add one minute to the timing.
You can also alternate between cycling intensities. Start with low intensity for about 5 to 10 minutes, then switch to medium intensity for 5 minutes. After that, you switch to high intensity for 1 to 5 minutes. Continue to alternate like that until your 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or any time you set for the workout elapses. Ensure to round off cycling with low intensity. It’ll help stabilize your heart rate.
Cycling for weight loss
Cycling for weight loss focuses on burning fat and losing weight. Hence, it requires high-intensity peddling. For a start, pedal your stationary bike with high intensity for 5 to 10 minutes, then switch to medium intensity for 3 to 5 minutes. After that, switch to high intensity for 3 to 5 minutes and back to medium intensity. Continue to alternate between medium and high-intensity for about 30 minutes before finishing off with low-intensity cycling for 5 to 10 minutes.
Cycling is the ultimate aerobic exercise because it is comfortable and suitable for people of all ages. One good thing about cycling is that people recovering from chronic illnesses can cycle. With the health benefits associated with cycling, it is recommended that we include cycling in our daily exercise. You don’t have to be strong to pedal, but you can pedal to get strong.