The Government would like us all to incorporate at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day. Cycling is a great form of exercise and can be mixed into other family activities, commuting to work and holiday activities.
Here are some ways that cycling can be good for your general health and well being:
Everyday cycling, where the exercise leaves you breathing heavily but not out of breath, is an effective and enjoyable form of aerobic exercise. This is the type of exercise that is most effective at promoting good health. Cycling reduces the risk of serious conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and the most common form of diabetes.
Cycling can be part of a programme to lose weight because it burns the energy supplied by a chocolate bar or a couple of alcoholic drinks in an hour (about 300 calories). A 15-minute bike ride to and from work five times a week burns off the equivalent of 11 pounds of fat in a year. That kind of cycling pattern meets the Government's latest target on exercise; we should take part in some mild to moderate physical activity that leaves us out of breath for at least 30 minutes five times a week.
Cycling can have positive effects on how we feel too. Moderate exercise has been found to reduce levels of depression and stress, improve mood and raise self-esteem.
In comparison with other exercises, cycling is a relatively ‘knee friendly’ activity that can help to improve knee joint mobility and stability. Cycling is frequently used as a rehabilitation exercise as well as part of the management of chronic degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis. The bicycle has a number of features that make it a particularly good for the knee joint:
- Non weight-bearing
- Low impact
- Uses a range of motion that is needed for most activities of daily living
- Controlled movement
- Variable resistance
- Cyclic movement nourishes joint cartilage
Regular cycling improves strength and co-ordination so people are less likely to fall and injure themselves in later years. Physically active older people have a much-reduced rate of hip fractures than less active people.
This may seem obvious; but the benefits of greater leg strength is increased overall mobility, enabling people to get out of chairs more easily and helps us all avoid falls; especially important in later years.