Like any physical activity, cycling provides a myriad of health benefits. Since cycling is an endurance based sport most of its health benefits stem from this.
Cycling Is suitable for everyone, no matter your age or your ability
You have the ability to cycle at almost any time, in a wide variety of location without having to break the bank. Other sports may require lots of equipment, high level of dedication and skill, or even having to keep to a schedule if you are part of a team. With cycling, you simply never forget how to ride a bicycle and so all you need to take part is a bike and some spare time throughout the week for you to hop on and take a ride.
Cycling builds strength
Cycling is not purely an endurance sport it will build muscle most notably in your legs. This is simply because of the resistance provided by riding a bike. Since the resistance is not a huge for a casual cyclist you won’t build massive legs. The great thing about cycling is that there isn’t any significant strain or wear and tear on your body due to a lack of impact that you might get through running.
Since no resistance is provided for your upperbody you won’t build any muscle there so you will have to look elsewhere if that is what you are looking for. If you wondering what type of body you can build you can take a look at some professional cyclists, of course if you are going to train like a long distance cyclist don’t look at someone like Sir Chris Hoy as an example of a physique that you will get.
Cycling will build stamina
Cycling is a great way to build up your endurance and improve your cardio-vascular fitness. When you cycle will be spending that time at an elevated heart rate and you will improve your body’s ability to maintain that level of work over longer periods of time. Doing so will improve your stamina and fitness. This will improve your overall health, the British Medical Association have stated that by cycling 20 miles a week you can reduce your risk of heart disease by 50%.
Cycling burns calories
Cycling can burn roughly 300 calories every hour. This will help you get rid of unwanted body fat just don’t go pigging out and eating an excess number of calories afterwards. In addition to these calories burnt due to the extra muscle you will build you will burn more calories even when you are resting i.e your resting metabolic rate will increase. This is because muscle burns calories even when you are not doing anything.
Cycling can reduce stress
Regular exercise is a great way to alleviate depression and will help to improve your overall self esteem. By cycling outdoors and getting some fresh air it can give your mind a break from the stress of everyday life. Your body will also release endorphins and other feel good hormones.
As with all exercise there are some important things you should take into account. Before starting any physical regime you should consult a doctor so that you have a better understanding of your limitations. You should also start out slow, with baby steps, and gradually increase the intensity level as you become fitter and stronger.
As we all know cycling is a tiring sport that requires you to eat massive amounts in order to sufficiently fuel your body. In order to make sure you always operating at your peak you need to ensure that you are eating a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables as well as making sure you are meeting your carbohydrate and protein needs. Supplements can also help you in this area where your diet may be deficient.
Studies have shown that people that regularly exercise require more protein in their diet compared to less active individuals. When we cycling the muscles in our legs most notably the calves, quads and hamstrings are broken down. In order for the body to recover and the muscles to adapt we need to intake a sufficient amount of protein. Whilst the bulk of this protein should come from whole food sources such as chicken, fish, beef etc you may benefit from taking a protein shake.
Protein shakes provide an extremely convenient as well as cost effective way of increasing your protein intake, they taste great as well! If you actually do the math, they are cheaper than most other protein sources such as lean meats. If you take advantage of special offers such as a referral code or a discount code you can cut this cost even further. I personally like the brands Maxinutrition (Maximuscle) and The Protein Works. You can find a voucher code or promo code for Maxinutrition from Maxishop here or for The Protein Works here.
Carbohydrates are your body’s primary energy source, needless to say you need carbohydrates in order to power through your workout. You should always make sure that the majority of your calories are coming from foods that filled with carbohydrates such as pasta, potatoes, grains etc.
You may still benefit from energy and sports drinks that contain electrolytes such as lucozade. If you cycle for longer periods of time then this is when you should consider an energy drink to top up your energy stores.
Whilst eating a balanced, healthy diet should give your body all of the micronutrients your body needs it always helps to have an insurance policy. Sometimes we do get lazy or careless and don’t eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables in a day. If this is the case for you then you should consider taking a multivitamin.
The body needs vitamins and minerals in order to function correctly, so if you are deficient your performance will suffer. You can pick up a good multivitamin anywhere on the high street such as Boots.
When people think about cycling they don’t really associate it with injuries. The great thing about cycling is that it doesn’t have any impact on the joints like running does which does reduce the occurrence of injuries however they do happen. Here are some common injuries:-
Blisters can range from barely noticeable to a massive pain. People don’t usually consider them a big deal but if you have ever experienced a particularly bad blister you know that they can make even walking extremely painful and difficult. Blisters are most commonly the result of new or poorly fitting footwear. If you can’t seem to find suitable trainers to wear when cycling you may have to consider purchasing specialist cycling shoes instead.
Sprains and strains do happen in cycling most commonly in ankles, knees and hips. They are usually caused by poor positioning of your body. They can be a serious issue so don’t just think you can cycle through the pain and it will eventually go away. If you suffer from a sprain or strain consult a medical professional and take a few days off.
Bumps And Scrapes
If you cycle long enough you will eventually fall off or with your bike. This can lead to the very painful experience of sliding along a road leading to some nasty scrapes. It’s not usually something you have to see a doctor about but it is painful at the time and may need some treatment. Make sure you sterilise the wound to prevent infection and to properly dress it so that it can heal correctly.
Foot Arch Discomfort
If you are new to cycling it’s not too uncommon to experience some discomfort in the arch of your foot this comes about from using your feet to pedal the bike. If you experience this try massaging your feet after cycling as well as finding footwear that provides more support. Specialist cycling shoes are ideal for this as they have special foot and arch support features.
Choosing the correct bike seat is paramount to having a long and enjoyable biking career. If you have ever been cycling on the wrong seat you will know that even a very brief ride can quickly turn from a great idea to a painful and uncomfortable experience.
When it comes to a good or bad seat there is no one size fits all, it will vary from person to person depending on their gender, size, proportions etc. The perfect bicycle seat doesn’t exist however some brands are more comfortable than others.
Perhaps the biggest and most common mistake that a new cyclist will make is to choose a seat that is bigger and has a lot of padding. On the surface this seems to make sense but it doesn’t work that way. A bigger seat will lead to more surface contact and therefore more friction will occur and thus more pain. You should instead choose a seat that is smaller so that the surface area that is in contact with your bum is in fact smaller.
In terms of padding the rules aren’t quite so strict. The bike seat should only have padding where you will natural come into contact with the seat such as wear your left and right buttocks actually make contact with the seat. There isn’t any reason to have padding on other parts of the seat, simply because your bum does not come into contact with those areas.
In terms of the shape of the seat a woman should choose one that is slightly wider due to the differences in anatomy compared to that of a man. There are some seats that have openings in the middle this can help to minimise friction between the seat and your genitalia to improve comfort.
These are just guidelines and are not a substitute for actually going to a bike shop and trying out the bike seat you want to buy in person. Most shops have employees that are very knowledgeable and who can help you with your purchase and make suggestions based on your needs.