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The Health Benefits of Cycling

What I love about cycling is the fact that it’s very enjoyable, it gets me outside seeing places that I might not otherwise see, and is very beneficial to my health. So, as well as being a lot of fun, cycling is also a great way to get fit and can result in many health benefits too.

So in what ways is cycling good for you?

There are a number of ways in which your body benefits from cycling, though perhaps the most important in terms of helping to extend your life are the cardiovascular benefits.

Cycling is what’s known as ‘aerobic’ exercise. Aerobic exercise uses, and improves, the consumption of oxygen in the body. While this in itself may not sound like anything special, it actually results in a number of benefits… In terms of the heart, cycling can strengthen the heart muscle which means it’s stronger and can pump blood more efficiently. It also strengthens the muscles used for respiration, and hence helps the flow of air in and out of the lungs. The whole of the body’s circulation is improved, which helps to reduce blood pressure, and the number of red blood cells in the body is increased, which helps the flow of oxygen.

All of these factors will help to improve the function of your heart and respiratory system, which should in turn decrease your chances of suffering from heart disease.

There are other health benefits too though: Aerobic exercise works by breaking down glycogens in your body and producing glucose. Glucose is then broken down by oxygen to produce energy. If we cycle for a longer period, and work ourselves a little harder, all of the glucose reserves in the body will be used. When this happens our bodies instead turn to our fat reserves, breaking down fat in order to produce energy. Of course we all know that when excess fat is broken down this should in turn result in losing weight.

Probably more obvious to many people are the muscular benefits, because cycling can tone many of the body’s muscles. This in turn will give you more strength and flexibility, and you’re bound to notice this even in your every day life, as many tasks will become easier as you get fitter.

Finally there’s the fact that cycling can be enjoyed by many people for whom other sports are not possible. Jogging or running have a higher impact on the joints and can’t be enjoyed by many people who suffer with arthritis in their knees, for example, whereas cycling can.

I recommend you spend a little money on a cycling computer. You hook this up on your bike (don’t worry, it’s not a complicated procedure!), and then depending on the model you can keep a track of various things whilst cycling. Try to find one with multiple functions – most obviously these will be: distance travelled on this trip, time travelled, distance travelled in total, current speed, average speed, and calories burnt. Do bear in mind that the calorie counter is just a guide, but it’s satisfying to see the numbers increasing all the same!

If you use the cycling computer whenever you go on a ride you can keep track of all your statistics. You can then use this information to monitor your increase in fitness levels. You should see your numbers improving after several weeks of regular cycling.

These are just a few of the benefits of cycling off the top of my head. The simple fact is that cycling is an enjoyable sport which will get you fit and in shape while having fun. If you’re not doing so already, go out there and get yourself a bicycle and start cycling. And have some fun getting fit.

Dirk Wessels is a computer programmer and runs a site to support orphans in his spare time. You can read about his efforts to get fit as well as his aims to provide help to orphans in South Africa by visiting Actions For Orphans. If you choose to distribute this article, please leave this about box intact.

About Mark Carrington

Keen cyclist and cycle tourist. Ridden by bicycle across Australia 7 times and crewed Race Across America. Experienced randonneur participated in Paris Brest Paris in 2007

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