For most, kitting up for hours-long rides every day might seem like an unattainable dream. Clocking serious mileage on a daily basis does require more work than your average amateur cyclist can manage, but daily riding itself is not only very feasible, but it can also positively affect your life. Here are five benefits of bike riding every day, no matter how much time or energy you have for it.
Note: If you’re not ready to commit to riding every day for forever, try completing a short-term ride streak first—it’s easier to start a habit by chipping away at smaller goals.
Everyone should learn to ride a bike. It’s as easy as learning to ride…well, a bike. And the thing is once you have learned is not something you ever forget you can do.Almost all of us learned to ride as kids. Most people remember all too well their first bike, and they do so with happy care free memories of childhood: Long sunny days playing with friends, trips to the park with our parents, riding to class…
For many people, bicycling never stops and continues right into their 80’s and 90’s and has been an intricate part of their entire life. For others riding stops the moment they get their driver’s license.
Thinking about joining the cycling family? Here are 15 reasons you should get on your bike this summer.
Cycling makes you happy: fact. (Chris Catchpole)
A study by the YMCA showed that people who had a physically active lifestyle had a wellbeing score 32 per cent higher than inactive individuals.
There are so many ways that exercise can boost your mood: there’s the basic release of adrenalin and endorphins, and the improved confidence that comes from achieving new things (such as completing a sportive or getting closer to that goal).
Cycling combines physical exercise with being outdoors and exploring new views. You can ride solo – giving you time to process worries or concerns, or you can ride with a group which broadens your social circle.
Former Hour Record holder Graeme Obree has suffered from depression through much of his life, and told us: “Getting out and riding will help [people suffering with depression]… Without cycling, I don’t know where I would be.”
2. Sharpen Your Mind
Once you’re in the habit of getting to work by bike, you’ll be better prepared for what comes next such as opting for your bike over your car to run a quick errand on the weekend or riding to the gym. Daily exercise has been found to increase energy and reduce fatigue. Even a single 30-minute bout of exercise can improve reaction time, memory, and creative thinking.
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“Cycling is one of the best exercises I’d recommend,” says Corey Kunzer, a physical therapist at the Mayo Clinic’s sports medicine department. It’s easy on the joints and helps relieve stress. Cycling has also been found to reduce anxiety and depression. When given a questionnaire, men who increased their daily bike commuting saw improvements in their overall mental health.
3. Cycling saves time
Get in the car, sit in traffic, queue to get into the car park, park, pay to park, arrive
Walk to bus stop, wait for bus, complain about bus being late, get on bus (pay), watch as it takes you round-the-houses, arrive, about half a mile from your destination
Get on the bike, filter past traffic, lock the bike, arrive
Short journeys contribute massively to global pollution levels, and often involve a fair amount of stationary staring at the bumper in front. Get on the bike, and you’ll save on petrol or cash on public transport, as well as time.
4.Increase Vitamin D
Unless you spend your weekends and evenings on an indoor bike to get fit, then it will come as no surprise to know that a lack of sunlight can have a major impact on vitamin D levels. This is even more of an issue during those long cold winter nights when all of us would rather be soaking up the latest box set on Netflix than taking your life in your hands by cycling in the dark.But not getting enough sunlight can have a negative effect on your mood, and perhaps more concerning, a lack of vitamin D has been linked to heart disease, cancer, and can affect you at a genetic level…So grab some decent sunblock and get on your bike.
5.Cycling Weight loss is one benefit of cycling
The simple equation, when it comes to weight loss, is ‘calories out must exceed calories in’. So you need to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight. Cycling burns calories: between 400 and 1000 an hour, depending on intensity and rider weight.
Of course, there are other factors: the make-up of the calories you consume affects the frequency of your refuelling, as does the quality of your sleep and of course the amount of time you spend burning calories will be influenced by how much you enjoy your chosen activity.Assuming you enjoy cycling, you’ll be burning calories. And if you eat well, you should lose weight.
6. Have Better Sex (Or At Least Think You Do)
All that newfound mental health could result in newfound confidence—which may or may not be a good thing. Men who exercise six or seven days per week have been found to self-report their sexual desirability as above average, or much above average. (Women also reported increases, but not as drastic.)
There’s at least some reason, however, for them to think so highly of themselves. Exercise has been shown to lead to increased sexual drive and decreases in sexual dysfunction, to a point. Too much of a good thing can drive down testosterone levels in men, but just 20 minutes of vigorous exercise can make women more sexually responsive.
7. Avoid pollution
You’d think a city cyclist would suck up much more pollution than the drivers and passengers in the vehicles chucking out the noxious gases. Not so, according to a study carried out by Imperial College London.Researchers found that passengers in buses, taxis and cars inhaled substantially more pollution than cyclists and pedestrians.
Cyclists breathe in fewer fumes on the street than drivers
On average, taxi passengers were exposed to more than 100,000 ultraﬁne particles — which can settle in the lungs and damage cells — per cubic centimetre. Bus passengers sucked up just under 100,000 and people in cars inhaled about 40,000.
Cyclists, meanwhile, were exposed to just 8,000 ultraﬁne particles per cubic centimetre. It’s thought that cyclists breathe in fewer fumes because we ride at the edge of the road and, unlike drivers, aren’t directly in the line of exhaust smoke.
8. Get better at any sport
Whether you want to keep in prime shape or just improve your weekly tennis game, a stint in the saddle is the way to begin. A recent medical study from Norway carried the title Aerobic Endurance Training Improves Soccer Performance, which makes it pretty clear that the knock-on beneﬁts to other sports and activities are immense.
9. Make creative breakthroughs
Writers, musicians, artists, top executives and all kinds of other professionals use exercise to solve mental blocks and make decisions — including Jeremy Paxman, Sir Alan Sugar and Spandau Ballet.
A study found that just 25 minutes of aerobic exercise boosts at least one measure of creative thinking. Credit goes to the ﬂow of oxygen to your grey matter when it matters most, sparking your neurons and giving you breathing space away from the muddle and pressures of ‘real life’.
10. Cycling builds muscle
The resistance element of cycling means that it doesn’t just burn fat: it also builds muscle – particularly around the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. Muscle is leaner than fat, and people with a higher percentage of muscle burn more calories even when sedentary.
To be clear – you won’t end up with quads like a track sprinter unless you invest a serious amount of time at the squat rack. But you will develop a nice toned derriere.
11. Enjoy second breakfasts
Chow down breakfast before AND after a ride
If you decide to cycle to work, you’ve got a great excuse to add a couple of guilt free snacks to your day.Since a half hour ride to work should be burning between 200 and 500 calories, you’ve got a license to enjoy a smug second breakfast at your desk.If you’re serious about burning fat, you could do your morning ride fasted (sans eakfast) – but that’s mainly a habit reserved for the most dedicated of nutters.
12. Better lung health
You won’t be alone if this point seems contradictory to common sense. But a recent study suggests that people who ride a bike are actually exposed to fewer dangerous fumes than those who travel by car.
A study by the Healthy Air Campaign, Kings College London, and Camden Council, saw air pollution detectors fitted to a driver, a bus user, a pedestrian and a cyclist using a busy route through central London.
The results showed that the driver experienced five times higher pollution levels than the cyclist, as well as three and a half more than the walker and two and a half times more than the bus user. Long story short: the cyclist won.
13. You can get fit without trying too hard
Regular, everyday cycling has huge beneﬁts that can justify you binning your wallet-crippling gym membership.According to the National Forum for Coronary Heart Disease Foundation in the US, regular cyclists enjoy a ﬁtness level equal to that of a person who’s 10 years younger.
14. Boost your bellows
No prizes for guessing that the lungs work considerably harder than usual when you ride. An adult cycling generally uses 10 times the oxygen they’d need to sit in front of the TV for the same period.
Even better, regular cycling will help strengthen your cardiovascular system over time, enabling your heart and lungs to work more efﬁciently and getting more oxygen where it’s needed, quicker. This means you can do more exercise for less effort. How good does that sound?
15. Burn more fat
Sports physiologists have found that the body’s metabolic rate — the efﬁciency with which it burns calories and fat — is not only raised during a ride, but for several hours afterwards.
“Even after cycling for 30 minutes, you could be burning a higher amount of total calories for a few hours after you stop,” says sports physiologist Mark Simpson of Loughborough University.
Riding regularly will help you burn off the fat
And as you get ﬁtter, the beneﬁts are more profound. One recent study showed that cyclists who incorporated fast intervals into their ride burned three-and-a-half times more body fat than those who cycled constantly but at a slower pace.