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Cycling benefits: 8 reasons to get on your bike

It doesn’t matter how fast or far you go, road cycling offers plenty of mind and body benefits for every rider! Here are 8 reasons to get on your bike today…

You don’t need a sports degree to know that road cycling offers a huge range of benefits for you. It’s great for your legs, lungs and mental health, with the main strength demands being placed on the quadricep, hamstring and gluteal muscles (but your upper body and core muscles will get a look in, too).

Not only will regular cycling help you to meet the recommended physical activity levels of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, but swapping the car for a bike will also help you to do your bit for the planet. It’s a great form of aerobic training that’s good for the cardiovascular system, and because it’s not a weight-bearing exercise it places less stress on the joints than high-impact activities such as running. Whether you pedal, pootle or coast along the roads, the benefits are big! Here are the top benefits of cycling to help you get in the saddle.

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1. It saves the planet

Sure, they’re convenient, but cars aren’t doing the planet any good. Motorised road vehicles are one of the biggest causes of pollution in the UK. Vehicle emissions, including carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons, have been linked not only to climate change, but also poor health. Bicycling is the answer!

According to a 2021 study by the University of Oxford’s Transport Studies Unit, swapping the car for a form of ‘active transport’ (cycling, e-biking or walking) on just one day a week could significantly reduce the impact that carbon emissions have on cities. Yes, we thought that would get your attention. Why not dust down your bike?

2. You’ll be richer

Fact: commuting to work by bike is far cheaper than driving a car. According to research into the annual costs of owning a car compared to a bicycle, running a car costs on average £3,727 per annum, while a bike is just £396. And cycling is certainly a cheaper (often, more convenient) way to get fit than joining a costly gym. It’s a great way to get your workout done, save on transport costs and, in many cases, shorten your commute time. Time to pedal to prosperity?

3. Cyclists have great legs

In the mission to lift your tush and tone your thighs, cycling could be your secret weapon. There’s a reason cyclists have killer legs, after all. Riding a bike is one of the best lower-body-toning activities around, as turning those pedals works your quads, hamstrings, calves and glutes. What’s more, cycling offers benefits for core strength and all of those bike handling skills required will work your arm muscles as well!

woman cycling on road through woods

4. Cycling sharpens the mind

Cycling works more than your leg muscles, it puts your mental muscle to the test, too. Case in point – research in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research reports that people scored higher on memory, reasoning and planning tests after 30 minutes of cycling compared to after no activity.

Why? Because blood flow to the brain increases when you pedal, which means that more oxygen and nutrients fuel your grey matter. And if you cycle in the countryside, being among nature will give your mind a chance to wander and help produce feelings of calm, plus there are the ‘feel-good’ endorphins to look forward to!

5. You’ll burn belly fat

Hitting the roads on your trusty steed provides a fat-burning workout that’s kind on your joints. If weight loss is your goal, not only will cycling tone your legs and butt, it will also burn 400 to 750 calories per hour, depending on your speed and the type of riding you’re doing. Indeed, riding for an hour at around 15mph on a road bike, you’ll burn roughly 600 calories. Pretty impressive!

6. Cycling is super sociable

Cycling can be a great way to escape the crowds or it can be a fantastic way to make a bundle of new mates. Road cyclists are a friendly bunch – it’s common practice to join a group of similar-paced riders during a sportive, and your new-found friends will even point out obstacles such as potholes, parked cars and rocks for you (just remember to do the same in return).

Cycling is also something the whole family can get involved in. Or, if you need to catch up with friends, forget the pub and hit the bike path for a spin and a café stop. It beats hanging around in the house!

7. There’s a route for everyone

Don’t like busy roads? We don’t blame you. In fact, a YouGov survey, commissioned by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), shows that 48 per cent of people think cycling in their local area is unsafe. But it needn’t be that way.

The National Cycle Network, founded by Sustrans, is a series of traffic-free biking routes, with maps and routes available at sustrans.org.uk. Cycling offers so many varieties, from mountain biking to indoor riding, it really is accessible to all. And depending on the workout you choose, you can clock everything from strength-training (think hills) to aerobic work (long rides).

8. Biking is weather-proof

Start cycling now and you’ll have found a sport that will rev you up whatever the weather, as you can carry on indoors when it’s too wet to go out. Indoor exercise bikes are not to be sniffed at – they’re a great choice for beginners, as you can build up your fitness and stamina without the worry of traffic or other obstacles, plus you can monitor your speed and time to power up your road cycling performance.

Check out these indoor cycling tips

Words: Sarah Sellens | Photography: Shutterstock

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