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Health: Ten reasons why cycling is (really) good for you

Nowadays, every child knows that cycling is good for health. But how exactly is it beneficial? The “pressedienst-fahrrad” has identified ten reasons and explains how just half an hour of regular cycling positively impacts the body and mind.

1. Cycling improves the cardiovascular system

Regular physical activity reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that 30 minutes of exercise five times a week helps combat a lack of exercise and the associated diseases of modern society. It’s not about doing high-performance sport. Simply doing moderate, but above all, regular exercise can help. It increases blood circulation which in turn increases the heart rate and pump output at the same time. The blood volume of the heart is also increased. An additional side effect is that cholesterol is reduced which prevents hardening of the arteries.

2. Cycling strengthens the immune system

Cyclists are true artists in staying health, even though they are subject to the rain, wind and cold. Various studies have documented what professional cyclists have proven in practice: Physical exertion and recovery in the fresh air increase the immune system’s performance. Exposing yourself to different cold and warm stimuli is extremely effective.This effectively boosts the immune system and makes it more resistant to colds. (Read more about cycling in autumn and winter here)  Exercising outdoors involves more light being absorbed by the retina which encourages vitamin production and boosts the immune system. This protective effect is only achieved in the long term, however. In the short term, the immune system can actually be weakened after particularly tough, anaerobic workouts because the percentage of protective lymphocytes is reduced.

3. Cycling improves respiratory function

The lungs particularly benefit from the rhythmic, cyclical nature of cycling. The lungs continually receive fresh oxygen and the increased breathing rate strengthens the surrounding muscles. A healthy lung pumps more air around the lungs and can therefore absorb more oxygen-rich air. This improves the effect of cycling outdoors. But, be careful: Air that is too cold – such as temperatures in the minus range – can lead to problems.

4. Cycling helps with back pain

Back pain usually occurs because the torso muscles are too weak. Poor exercise habits and/or incorrect posture while sitting at a desk can also cause this. The lower lying, small muscles between the vertebrae are important for a healthy, stable back and these are strengthened by cycling. The right posture is important here: The upper body should lean forward slightly so that the body’s centre of gravity sits over the pedals as much as possible. The repetitive pedaling action helps alleviate chronic back pain. Be careful: There are no fixed rules here since back pain is unique to each situation and cycling can make certain back problems worse.

5. Cycling helps combat depression

Just 30 minutes of cycling helps produce a significant number of endorphins. These are the reason why cyclists feel more relaxed and suffer less from depression than non-athletes. This is shown in a study by Tübingen University Hospital. After 30 minutes of cycling, the blood levels in people with depression returned to normal again. Scientists believe that the even, cyclical motion of pedalling has a relaxing effect on the psyche.

6. Cycling protects the joints

Since the bike bears most of the body weight, cycling is particularly gentle on the joints. The cyclical working and relaxation of the joints supplies them with more nutrients and remove toxins. This is particularly true for the knee joints! Even people with damaged joints can cycle, or alternative opt for a recumbent bike.

7. Cycling stimulates the brain

The best ideas often occur while cycling – Albert Einstein and Arthur Conan Doyle are just a few examples of famous people who enjoyed cycling. This is because exercise increases blood flow to the brain which leads to improved branching of nerve cells. The brain therefore becomes more powerful. This is one reason why it is good to cycle to school with your kids or let them cycle by themselves. (More about benefits for cycling kids and families here).

8.  Cycling improves coordination

Steering, pedalling, looking around, concentrating: Cycling requires complex motor skills. It develops various forms of awareness which improves coordination skills and balance in children. The different senses are particularly heightened in traffic. As a result, cycling transfers to other forms of exercise. Cycling is also good preparation for other types of sport.

9. Cycling helps weight loss

Endurance training is an effective fat-burning method. Cycling can be undertaken as aerobic, intensive and interval training. Power meters help to improve training results. Hobby cyclists that want to increase their metabolism should opt for longer rides at lower intensity. Proficient cyclists should turn to interval training such as a short sprint. Training plans can help you lose weight more effectively. Read more about wightloss and cycling here!

10. Cycling improves sleep

Scientists at the University of Oregon have determined that the light and deep phases of sleep are significantly improved in active people. Sport isn’t just sport. Cycling is particularly good for people who do sport in the evening. Endurance sports improve sleep quality because they do not involve winning or losing in comparison to ball sports. The body is less worked up and secretes fewer hormones. This makes getting to sleep easier!

by Bike Citizens feat. PD-F

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