HomeHealthMental Health10 ways that cycling improves your physical and mental health

10 ways that cycling improves your physical and mental health

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The prospect of cycling can be tough this time of year. For most of us in the Northern Hemisphere, temperatures have dropped, seasons have changed, and there may even be snow on the ground.

Luckily, virtual bike platforms love it Zwift can entertain and motivate us in the winter, and that’s more important than you might think.

Related: 5 Zwift racing tips from a pro

Of course cycling will get you more aerobically fit, and it’s a great way to connect with friends. But cycling has an even bigger impact on your physical and mental health than that. In this column, we’ll go through our top 10 ways cycling improves your physical and mental health.

1. Cycling is a low-impact exercise that is perfect for all ages

As a non-weight-bearing activity, cycling is one of the safest and most effective forms of exercise for people of all ages. From children to adults and the elderly, you can get many of the same physical health benefits from cycling as from weight-bearing exercise like running.

A study found that just a few weeks of weight-bearing cycling helped improve lower extremity strength and power in older adults. Most older adults struggle with running and other weight-bearing activities, which can lead to a variety of acute or chronic injuries. Cycling, on the other hand, offers a much lower injury risk while providing many of the same potential benefits.

However, cycling, as a non-weight-bearing activity, does not increase bone density, which is especially important for older adults. We recommend that older adults do 1-2 strength training sessions per week to increase bone density and prevent injury.

2. Cycling helps improve your social life and opportunities

It’s hard to imagine a stronger social culture than that of cycling. From cafes to bike shops, to group rides and Wednesday Night Worlds, cycling has a rife culture that transcends age and ability. Anyone can show up for the group ride, anyone can come chat at the coffee shop, and anyone can try the local criterium.

There are hundreds and thousands of cycling clubs all over the world, and today there are more virtual groups than ever. When the roads get icy, you can hop on Zwift and connect with 25,000 other cyclists riding in Watopia. In the cycling world you never have to be alone and the possibilities to connect with others are endless.

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3. Cycling helps save time and money

More people than ever are trading in their cars for bicycles, especially as more e-bikes hit the market. These days, you can commute 30 miles on a cargo e-bike, complete with fenders, racks, lights, and cargo space. You can cut your commute in half while exercising on the go.

Of course, bicycles are powered by pedals. And you don’t have to pay for parking, catch the train on time or worry about refueling on the way to work. You can also use your bike for more than just work. With a cargo bike you can do your entire shopping without using a car. Many cyclists have already made the switch from car to bicycle and the number continues to grow.

4. Cycling lowers your risk of debilitating diseases

There are countless studies who have found that cycling helps to lower the risk of all kinds of diseases, including heart disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. As a cardiovascular exercise, cycling strengthens your aerobic system and the muscles used to pedal.

In addition, cycling is associated with other aspects of a healthy lifestyle, such as regular exercise, mindful eating and outdoor activities.

5. Cycling improves your mental health

One of the most underrated benefits of cycling is its positive effect on our mental health. Studies have shown that all types of cycling contribute to improving mental health and well-being. This includes cyclists, e-bike riders, commuters and more.

Cycling, regular exercise and getting outside all stimulate the release of crucial neurotransmitters such as endorphins, serotonin and adrenaline. This helps lift our mood no matter the time of day and puts a smile on our face as we pull out of the driveway. Many people have cited cycling as crucial to their mental health journey when dealing with depression, anxiety, confidence issues and more.

6. Cycling helps strengthen your lungs and immune system

As you might expect, exercising your lungs makes them stronger. And cycling does just that. Whether you’re cycling at low intensity or high intensity, you breathe harder on the bike than when you’re sitting at your desk. Not only can cycling increase your lung capacity, but it’s also a great therapeutic tool for people with COPD.

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Just as cycling helps reduce your risk of chronic disease, it also helps strengthen your immune system and fight short-term illnesses. This effect occurs regardless of cycling intensity, which is good news for recreational cyclists and the elderly. Only low-intensity cycling can help strengthen your immune system.

7. Cycling can help you lose weight

Weight loss is a tricky subject in the cycling world, but it is also one of the most important benefits. For people who want to lose weight, cycling is the perfect low-impact activity to burn calories and especially fat.

Cycling can burn between 300 and 1000+ calories per hour at varying intensities. Because it is non-weight bearing, many cyclists enjoy cycling for several hours at a time, which is almost impossible to do with other activities such as running or walking. Only experienced runners or walkers can handle a multi-hour activity without the risk of injury.

Of course there is a healthy balance between cycling and losing weight. You should always fuel your rides and workouts, but you can also work with a small calorie deficit if you’re trying to lose weight. As a rule of thumb, a healthy weight loss goal is to lose no more than one pound (0.45 kg) per week.

8. Cycling helps build muscle and improve coordination

As you might expect, cycling builds the muscles it uses. This includes the quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves and lower back. Building muscle increases strength and power, and more than just riding a bike. Cycling also improves your coordination and balance, especially if you are a cyclist, mountain biker or cyclocross rider.

9. You can see the world by bike, a perspective like no other.

Nothing beats discovering the world by bike. Often a car feels too fast and a walk too slow. You can fly through the countryside in a car or crawl along a nature trail on foot. But when you’re on a bike, you can see and hear more than 100 miles of nature in one ride.

When you’re on the bike, you can stop at any time, take pictures at the top of the mountain and feel the wind in your face as you descend through hairpin bends. It’s like traveling and living at the same time, and in my mind it’s a feeling like no other.

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10. Cycling helps improve your sleep and sex life

Sleep is almost a powerful drug, yet few people use it to its fullest. Sleeping well increases your cognition and stamina, reduces the risk of injury by up to 65 percentand lowers your risk of death from all causes. Sleep is available to us 24/7, but many of us don’t get enough of it.

A recent study has shown that cycling and vigorous exercise can lead to better deep sleep and overall sleep quality. So the message is twofold: cycling helps you sleep better, and sleeping helps you cycle better. So go out and start sleeping!

Another benefit of cycling is an improved sex life. Regular sex helps us live longer and enjoy life to the fullest. In reality, studies have actually linked the frequency and quality of sex to a lower risk of cardiovascular events in both men and women.

It makes sense when you think about it because the same muscles are used in cycling and are mostly used during sex. Cycling improves cardiovascular fitness, as well as muscle strength and endurance in the hips, thighs, glutes, hamstrings and lower back. You could say the same about the other activity.



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Cycling is associated with a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and death: part 1 – systematic
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Sleep and athletic performance: The effects of sleep loss on exercise performance and physiological and cognitive responses to exercise

Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with more sports injuries in adolescent athletes

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The effects of high-intensity evening exercise on sleep in healthy adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Is sex good for your health? A national study on sexuality and cardiovascular risk in older men and women



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