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3 June is observed as World Bicycle Day by the United Nations' general assembly. The day aims to recognise the uniqueness, longevity and versatility of the bicycle which has been a mode of transportation for centuries now.
A physically active lifestyle is essential for you to be fit and healthy. And, the human body needs physical activity for normal functioning to long-term health efficiency. Today, we have limitless options in our hands for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and one of the easiest and most accessible ones is cycling.
Every day, our body requires at least thirty minutes of physical activity, which is also essential for mental as well as emotional well-being. Cycling is one of the easiest means to prevent the onset of risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle. It is a healthy, low-impact exercise that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
From obesity, mental illness and diabetes to arthritis, cycling can help protect you from various diseases. It helps in toning your muscles, improving your cardiovascular health, boosting your blood circulation and more. Boldsky spoke with Dr Alex Maliekal to know about the possible health benefits regular cycling could have on an individual.
Read on to know the various health benefits one can get from cycling every day.
1. Tones the muscles
Cycling regularly involves a lot of pedalling, which strengthens the leg muscles. Not only that, but it also helps in toning your whole muscles. Your arm muscles are toned due to the force given to balance and hold your body up as you cycle. Apart from that, cycling can be beneficial for children as it helps improve muscle health and increase the flexibility of muscles .
2. Boosts cardiovascular health
While you are cycling, the heart beats faster than the normal rate, which promotes a healthy heart. It is because the blood pumps faster that improves the functioning of your heart. People who cycle every day to work or other places are less likely to develop cardiovascular issues like high blood pressure .
3. Increase body strength
Any physical activity that requires the working of your whole body is bound to increase your body strength as well as your energy levels . Cycling aids in increasing the body's stamina and boosts the endurance capacity of a person. Cycling exercise benefits the body by increasing your energy levels and getting you charged up for the day. If your energy levels are higher, you will feel less fatigued.
4. Manages stress
One of the major mental health benefits of cycling is that it acts as a great stress buster. Cycling helps in combating stress and anxiety. And if done regularly, it can treat various mental health conditions. This is because cycling is a fun activity that brings positive effects on the body .
5. Aids weight loss
Cycling is a good way to eliminate unwanted fat from the body. It exercises the muscles of the thighs and buttocks and it also increases your metabolic rate, thus reducing your belly fat. An hour of vigorous cycling can burn a significant number of calories and speed up the weight loss process .
6. May lower the risk of diabetes
Diabetes increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and blood sugar levels. Cycling every day will help lower the risk of diabetes and it is one of the best ways to keep the blood sugar levels under control. Cycling every day for more than 30 minutes will lower the risk of diabetes by almost 40 per cent .
Dr Alex said, "cycling (and other aerobic exercises) when done on a regular basis helps the muscles to better utilise the glucose (through non-insulin-dependent pathway) and hence helps to prevent/delay the onset of diabetes. Even in already diagnosed patients, it helps to reduce the dose of insulin used."
7. May lower the risk of cancer
Some studies point out that cycling every day may help prevent the onset of cancer . People who follow a lifestyle with moderate to high physical activities, which include cycling and running, are known to have a lesser risk of cancer, in comparison to people who did not.
8. Improves joint mobility
Cycling is an ideal form of exercise for people suffering from osteoarthritis. It is one of the best exercises to prevent the onset of arthritis because the joints in the legs are given lesser stress. Cycling is also known to improve the strength and balance of the body .
9. Boosts bowel movement
Cycling is a kind of aerobic exercise that accelerates your breathing and heart rate, which helps to stimulate the contraction of the intestinal muscles. This will prevent you from feeling bloated and help improve the bowel movement .
10. May improve brain health
Some studies suggest that cycling can help improve your memory. Cycling helps to build new brain cells in the hippocampus - the region responsible for memory . It boosts oxygen and blood flow to the brain cells, which fires and regenerates the receptors and can even ward of Alzheimer's disease.
The doctor added, "cycling (or any high intensity, rapidly changing exercises) helps increase the cerebral blood flow and keeps the brain active. Helps delay degenerative changes in the brain hence delaying dementia (Alzheimer's being one among them)."
Why Cycling Can Be Especially Beneficial For Women
Several studies have shown that women are slightly more likely to be classified as physically inactive than men. Cycling would make a perfect way for women to build some physical activity into their lives, thus improving their overall health and fitness .
So, what are the specific benefits of cycling for women:
- May reduce arthritis risk by reducing body weight
- Cycling is gentle on your joints and helps preserve cartilage, making it beneficial for women who suffer from muscle strain, foot problems, knee troubles, back pain or impact-related injuries caused by running, jogging or walking.
- Improves mental health and well-being .
- Improves social life.
- May protect you against breast cancer, as studies point out that physically active women have a lower risk of breast cancer compared to inactive women .
On A Final Note...
Apart from the various health benefits provided by cycling, it is also an environment-friendly mode of transportation. Therefore, it not only promotes good health but also is good for the environment. Chose cycling for your health and the earth's health.