Get on your bike to boost your health
‘Cycle to Work Day’ on the 3rd August encourages workers all over the country to hop on their bikes and commute to work in the greatest way possible - on two wheels! Cycling is far more enjoyable than being stuck in a traffic jam or crammed next to fellow commuters on public transport. By riding your bike, you can enjoy the fresh air and scenery whilst getting in shape!
Cycling is a terrific low-impact, low-to-moderate effort approach to get more active, and the changes will be much more pronounced and the benefits higher if you don't already exercise consistently. A study looking at active commuting found that those that cycle to work have a massive 41% lower risk of dying from all causes.
We look at the benefits of cycling and how it may help you improve your health and wellness.
Helps to reduce your risk to serious disease
Getting on your bike and being physically active can help reduce your risk to a number of serious illnesses, including:
- heart disease
- type 2 diabetes
Cycling to work is associated with a 45% reduced chance of developing cancer and a 46% lower risk of cardiovascular disease when compared to driving or taking public transport, according to a survey of 264,337 people. Cycling 20 miles each week can cut your risk of coronary heart disease in half. If that seems like a long distance, consider that it's only a two-mile bike ride each way (assuming you work five days a week).
7 ways cycling helps your health and fitness
- Low impact – cycling is a low-impact workout that puts less strain on your joints and produces fewer injuries than most other kinds of exercise.
- A great all round muscle workout - cycling, contrary to popular belief, does not only target the lower body by increasing muscular strength, it’s also great for toning your arms, especially if you can cycle in a hilly area. The effort you use to pull on your bike's handlebars to oppose the downward draw is essential for training your biceps, triceps, and deltoids.
- It’s easy! Unlike other sports, you don’t need high levels of physical skill. Most people know how to ride a bike, and once you learn, you never forget.
- A fun way to get fit - cycling can be a great way to reach the recommended amount of physical activity per week of 150 minutes. It's easier to include into your daily routine than most other forms of exercise because it doubles as transportation to and from shops, schools and work and is much more scenic than going to the gym. Getting out in the open leaves you feeling revitalised and energised.
- Mental health - cycling can help relieve stress, depression, and anxiety. When cycling, focusing on the road or your cadence can help you build attention and awareness of the present moment and help divert your mind from the mental chatter of your day. One study discovered that riding outside increased cognitive functioning and well-being in older people.
- Every hour spent on your bike adds an hour to your life! Cycling not only helps you avoid dying young, but it also increases your longevity. According to David Spiegelhalter, the Winton Professor of Risk at Cambridge University, every hour we spend riding adds an hour to our lives. As a result, middle-aged cyclists had a two-year longer life expectancy than the general population.
- Strengthens your heart and lungs - when you ride, your lungs work much harder than they normally do. In general, an adult cycling consumes 10 times the oxygen required to sit in front of the TV for the same amount of time. Even better, frequent cycling will help improve your cardiovascular system over time, allowing your heart and lungs to perform more efficiently and get more oxygen to where it's required faster.
Doing your bit for the environment
Sitting in traffic isn't good for your happiness, and it's even worse for the environment. By getting on your bike, you’ll be helping the environment by lowering the number of cars on the road and also improving air pollution. According to a 2013 study by the European Cyclists Federation, a car generates 271g of CO2 every kilometre travelled, whereas a bike emits only 21g.
Helps you to save money
The more journeys you can do on your bike instead of driving, the less money you will spend on fuel, wear and tear on your vehicle and parking fees.
Apps to help you stay motivated
We look at some free cycling applications that can track your ride, help with route planning, and provide live weather forecasts to support you on your bike journey.
- Strava – this app is great for tracking your activity. You can keep track of your performance, such as distance and pace and you can track your progress and set goals
- Map My Ride - If you're tired of taking the same daily route, Map My Ride is a terrific method for discovering new ones. When you find a really fantastic route, save it and share it with your friends so they may access it as well.
- Bikemap - claims to have the world's largest collection of cycle routes and covers over 100 countries! You can plan your bike route by searching for popular routes, flat routes, hill routes, or even downhill routes.
- FillThatHole - operated by Cycling UK, the UK's largest cycling organisation, is ideal for riders whose path is frequently disrupted by potholes and other road surface issues. These can be hazardous because potholes frequently lead bikers to lose control and swerve into traffic. You can report these issues to your local council using this app.
- RainAlarm - Rain Alarm is an app that delivers accurate weather forecasts, allowing you to plan your cycling route based on the weather.
So, get on your bike and join the estimated one billion people who ride bikes every day for transportation, entertainment, and sport.