You’ll hear this a lot over the coming months: the sport of cycling has never been in better health in the UK. With the Aviva Tour of Britain on the horizon, and monikers like ‘Wiggo, Froome and Boardman’ becoming household names, there’s also never been a better time to get back on your own bicycle. But if you did need a little extra motivation, our Medical Director Dr Doug highlights the amazing health benefits that have long been associated with the sport:
Cycling helps to burn calories
• It’s a great way to help lose those unwanted pounds. The NHS tells us someone weighing 80kg (12st 9lb) is likely to burn over 650 calories an hour with energetic cycling… but for most of us it’s likely to be around 300 calories per hour, making steady progress on a bike.
Cycling increases all-round fitness
• Whilst it makes most use of your largest muscle group (your legs), every part of your body gets involved, even on a short bike ride.
• It’s relatively low-impact, so there’s less risk of over-exercise or strain for muscles and joints.
Regular cycling helps tone your muscles
• It’s very good for improving mobility in your hip and knee joints. What’s more, if you’re Mountain Biking or spending a long time 'out of the saddle', you’ll be constantly shifting your weight and working on your arms, chest and abs – helping to improve your core stability.
Cycling works improves cardio-vascular fitness
• It makes your heart beat faster over an extended period of time.
• As it’s easy to add a few hundred yards to each ride, cycling is a good way to help build up your physical stamina.
Cycling can improve your health inside and out
• Fresh air, fresh outlook: it’s great for improving your outlook on life, and giving yourself some important space to engage in mindfulness.
• There’s a lot to be said for its effects on your mood and general mental health – cycling is a great way to get away from the stresses and strains of everyday life and take your mind off anything that’s worrying you.
Getting back into cycling
If you haven’t cycled for a while, do take things slowly to start with. They say it’s ‘like getting back on a bike’, but it also makes sense not to overdo it. If you’re thinking about make energetic cycle rides part of an exercise routine, it can be prudent to talk about your plans with a GP who can give you advice on anything you should avoid doing. Enjoy your ride!