Jump On Your Bike and Get Going
We are always looking for the ultimate form of exercise – something that is more efficient and more effective that gives us a bigger bang for our buck. Our author breaks down her case as to why cycling is the ultimate form of exercise. It definitely is an effective way to get in shape!
The ultimate form of exercise?
Cycling is an enormously popular sport and personal fitness passion for people around the globe. For me, personally, I learned to ride a bike at an early age and quickly adopted it as a major part of my childhood.
For many years, I pursued other things and just forgot about it.
Then, in my early 20’s I decided to pick up a bike again, just for recreational fun.
The thrill of riding
Wow! I had forgotten what a thrill it is to ride, especially because you can go anywhere on a bike. I have now been riding for 30 years and have explored mountain trails, long expansive highways with rolling hills, and bounded through some of the prettiest scenery of Boise, Idaho.
I have often rode peacefully on the popular trail by the river, which we call “the greenbelt”, and I have hauled my bike across hundreds of miles on camping trips.
As a young mother, I managed to attach two “extra” bike seats on both the front and rear of my old heavy-duty Schwinn so I could haul my two young children with me.
Getting around was fairly easy, but going up the hills was really tough! I was glad to share the fun of bike riding, with my son and daughter, who were 1 and 3 at the time.
Great stress reliever
Cycling has become a passion of mine and one I will never give up. Even if I just ride a little bit every week, it always makes me feel better and have a more positive outlook on life.
I have used cycling as a way to relieve stress many times. Pumping away would always help me work out whatever I needed to think over and end up feeling better. I would ride hard and fast, and when I came home again, all my problems seemed lighter.
Why Fitness Cycling is the Ultimate Form of Exercise:
1. Better cardiac health
Cycling is wonderful exercise because it is easy to do and the effort you put into it can vary from mild to extreme. As you pedal, you naturally increase your respiration.
You breathe deep, your heart pumps harder, your lungs expand, and your circulation is improved.
When cycling becomes part of your regular exercise routine, it can help prevent chronic diseases, like heart disease. Being fit builds up your immune system, which helps protect you from diseases.
2. Weight loss
I have found cycling to be one of the most effective ways to lose weight. Combined with other exercises, like running, and diet changes like eating less sugar, less dairy, and increasing my intake of fruits and vegetables, cycling works well when you want to burn calories.
If you look at most people who are cyclists, they are usually slim and trim, and their body to fat ratio is very small.
3. Good for muscle development
When you are cycling, you are using some of the largest muscles on your body like your thighs, your glutes, your calves and your shins. Cycling makes excellent use of your core body muscles.
Your arms are stretched and your stomach is tightened. Riding can greatly improve your muscle tone.
4. Increased energy
Just like many other sports, cycling is a natural way to increase your energy level. Any type of exercise stimulates your body to be more productive, to work harder and faster, and ultimately, you produce more energy from doing it.
The more active you are, the bigger boost you will get.
5. Low impact on joints
Cycling is an activity that does not require any sudden or harsh impacts on your joints (like running can) so it is considered low impact exercise.
Your body motions as you pedal away are smoother and easier on your joints than some other kinds of high impact sports.
6. Increased strength and stamina
As you ride on a regular basis, you usually become better at it. Your leg muscles become more developed and you gain muscle strength. Then, as you push yourself to do more things like climbing hills, you also increase the amount of stamina you have.
Eventually, you can do more and go farther because of better stamina. Some people do cycling as a part of racing competitions and extreme sporting events, like triathlons, but I have never raced.
7. Mood improvement and brain activity
A natural benefit of riding a bike is improved mood. I have experienced this many times. Just like runners who experience the “runner’s high”, cyclists can have similar experiences and feel euphoric.
This is mainly because of the feel-good hormones in your brain that are stimulated by the high level of exercise.
Hormones like dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, estrogen and testosterone and progesterone are increased, so you feel better emotionally.
Oxygen levels in your blood are also increased by cycling and other forms of cardio exercise. This oxygen boost to your brain has been shown by recent studies to improve cognitive functions, for things like problem solving and memory.
8. Easy, fun and outdoors
One of the first realizations I had about riding a bike is that it is just plain good old-fashioned fun! It is easy to learn and people of all ages can ride, so it is not just reserved for the young.
Another major benefit of riding is that you can see and experience many beautiful and diverse outdoor locations. You can climb mountains, ride trails, travel long distance, or do short distance rides.
9. Social Activity
Cycling can be an enjoyable social activity, whether you ride with just one person or 20. It’s a very relaxing way to go places and share the experience with others.
As a parent, going on rides with my children was always a favorite pastime of theirs. Many people also like the competitiveness of racing, which is a whole other type of experience.
10. Practical, reliable and cheap
Cycling is becoming more and more accepted by society as a means of transportation. This is mainly due to the common sense of people who have developed a strong distaste for driving a car in city traffic.
It is a practical and reliable source of transportation that is considerably cheaper than owning and driving a car. Because of high operating, maintaining and fuel costs associated with cars, more people have a mindset to use it as a viable option for getting to their work, especially when they live within close proximity to their jobs.
When you stop and think about all the possible rewards of cycling, including better cardiac health, weight loss, muscle development, low joint impact, increased energy and stamina, mood improvement and brain functioning, and add those to the easy, fun, outdoorsy, social, practical, reliable and cheap aspects, it is amazing to realize just how much a person can gain from a single, simple piece of equipment.
My bike holds a lot of memories and its value to me goes beyond words.
- 10 Reasons Why Cycling is the Ultimate Form of Exercise - October 15, 2015
- Ever Thought About Doing a Triathlon? - September 3, 2015