How Cycling Can Change Your Body

This weekend, millions of men and women will load up their bike racks and head to their favorite streets and trails for a great workout that combined fitness and fun. The World Health Organization lists physical inactivity as the second most dangerous health risk in developed nations (The first is smoking tobacco), but people of all ages and abilities can experience the many health benefits cycling provides, changing their bodies and lives in the process. Where will you notice the effects of cycling?

Your Face

Head out on your bicycle this weekend, and the first change you notice might be on your face. Cycling takes riders out into the sun, where the combination of fresh air, natural light and exercise endorphins can be a powerful mood booster. In fact, regular exercise is associated with an elevated mood and decreased levels of depression. Cycling can decrease stress and reduce anxiety. Odds are at the end of a good ride you’ll have a smile on your face and an increased sense of overall wellbeing in your heart.

Your Heart

As you continue cycling, you may also notice a change in your breathing. As you pedal yourself up a hill or push yourself to increase your speed, you’ll find yourself breathing harder and faster. Cycling can be a major cardiovascular workout, strengthening the muscles of your heart and lungs. As your stamina increases, you’ll be able to ride longer and take on more challenging courses without becoming winded or fatigued. These health benefits will become apparent in your day-to-day life as well, where your improved circulation and lower resting heart rate will make you feel more energized. You’ll also reduce your risk of heart disease.

Your Muscles

Your heart and lungs aren’t the only muscles getting a workout as you cycle. It incorporates all the major muscle groups, increasing muscle strength and flexibility throughout your body. If you ride regularly, you’ll notice your legs becoming leaner and more muscular. Your posture will improve both on the bike and off. As you react to the conditions of the road you’ll become more coordinated.

Your Physique

A 180-pound cyclist can burn approximately 650 calories an hour on a moderately difficult ride, but a more intense ride can burn over 1,000 calories an hour. Even a leisurely ride burns around 500 calories per hour, making cycling a great way to lose weight and firm up your physique. Losing excess body fat is associated with many health improvements, including improved sleep and greater life expectancy. It reduces your risk of developing a number of diseases, including:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Some cancers

Combined with a healthy eating plan, cycling can be a great way to build muscle and lose fat. Challenge yourself to ride a few times a week and you’ll soon notice changes throughout your body. However, there are a few places where you probably won’t, or shouldn’t, feel the impact of cycling: your joints and your head.

Joints

Though your muscles may feel the strain of a rigorous bike ride, it’s unlikely that you’ll feel the stress in your joints. In fact, one study showed that elderly patients who cycle actually experienced less knee pain. Cycling is relatively low-impact. This makes it a good choice for people who experience arthritis and other forms of joint pain. It can also be a great way for people who are overweight or obese to begin a workout regimen without putting undue stress on their knees.

Head

One part of your body that you do not want to be impacted by cycling is your head. Cycling is one of the leading causes of sport-related head injuries in children under 14, and causes roughly 40,000 injuries per year. However, many of these injuries are preventable. While three-quarters of fatal crashes involve a head injury, 97 percent of those killed were not wearing a helmet. Among those who suffer a head injury but do not die, 87 percent were not wearing a helmet. A properly-fitting helmet is essential for riders of all ages and abilities. With the right protection, cycling will impact your brain only in positive ways; it’s shown to boost brainpower and help with everything from ADHD to Alzheimer’s.

Cycling for Change

While most forms of exercise boast similar benefits, cycling is a particularly easy and enjoyable way to boost your health. It offers some unique advantages:

  1. It’s relatively easy to learn, and once you’ve mastered the basics you can tailor the intensity of the ride to your own ability and preferences, whether you’re looking for a casual weekend ride through the countryside or a stronger performance in a grueling triathlon.
  2. It’s a great way to be active with others. Riding clubs exist all over the country, making cycling a great way to meet new people and make new friends. It’s also a great family activity, and a great way for parents and kids to get active together.
  3. It’s an efficient way to combine exercise with your other activities. Cycling is a popular mode of transportation around the world, and many people find it a great way to commute to work or to complete errands on the weekend. It is also popular in tourism, where riders can experience new landscapes at a relaxed pace without the need to rent a car or suffer the limited views offered by public transportation.

If you’re ready to feel your body change, Cracks & Racks can help you to outfit your vehicle with everything you need. Our bike racks can accommodate all kinds of bikes and every type of vehicle, so you’re always ready to hit the road or take to the trails.