8 incredible benefits of riding a bicycle:
Today I want to introduce you to 8 incredible benefits that cycling has for you. If you still don't know or don't practice this sport, it's never too late to start. Elaine Thompson triple medalist in Tokyo 2021 and the second fastest woman in the games, learned to ride a bike at the age of 29. Don't worry, you're still on time!
Cycling helps improve your fitness, endurance, and stamina without damaging your leg muscles. It's also a great low-impact cardio workout, and adding it to your weekly training regimen will help you do more with less stress on your body.
1. Balance your mind
Almost any exercise is beneficial for overall health, cycling is especially good for mental health. It gets blood pumping throughout the body at a faster rate, which allows for a rapid spread of endorphins and other mind-benefiting substances such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.
2. Reduces bad cholesterol
Cycling at a moderate intensity (65% - 70% of maximum heart rate) and regularly (3 to 5 sessions per week), increases HDL (good cholesterol) and reduces LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglyceride levels. We will also have to have periodic analyses and watch our diet.
There are high-performance athletes who, although they take strict care of their diet and have never stopped playing sports, belong to the 50% of those over 45 years of age with hypercholesterolemia (this disease causes the level of LDL (bad) cholesterol to be very high). Hence the importance of periodic analysis.
3. Improve your immune system:
According to studies conducted by the journal Aging cell and reported by the British newspaper The Guardian, cycling can slow the effects of aging and rejuvenate the immune system. The research results show that cyclists retain muscle mass and strength as they age, while men's testosterone levels remain reasonably high.
The anti-aging effects of cycling appear to extend to the immune system. Normally the thymus (the body's organ where T-cells mature, which are essential for the immune system to adapt to the external invaders it has to deal with) begins to shrink in size after the age of 20. This study has found that the thymuses of older cyclists generate as many T cells as those of younger cyclists.
4. Makes you even smarterExercise can improve brain function and protect memory and thinking ability. How does it do this? In 3 ways: First, physical activity increases heart rate, which promotes better blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Second, it stimulates the production of hormones that can enhance brain cell growth. Third, exercise has been shown to reduce changes in the brain that can cause mental illness. Cycling helps create new brain cells in the hippocampus, the region responsible for memory, which deteriorates after the age of 30.
5. Helps you improve VO2 maxVO2, or "aerobic capacity", indicates the maximum amount of oxygen each person can process, measured in milliliters per kilogram of body weight per minute. The higher the figure, the more oxygen will reach the muscles and therefore you will be able to practice your sport with greater intensity or for a longer period of time.
6. Strengthen your knees with each pedal stroke.
They are one of the main weak points of athletes. 80% of people over 50 have knee problems ranging from occasional discomfort to more serious and disabling injuries. Riding a bicycle will help us to strengthen the muscles of the legs without putting our joints in difficulties, as well as it is also recommended to include foods to strengthen the knees such as salmon, spinach or blueberries, among others.
7. Strengthens complementary muscles
When cycling, the core muscles have to keep the upper body in a rather static position, with little or no movement. To do this, they maintain isometric contractions (those that keep the muscles in action, but without shortening or lengthening).
That is why it is important to work on core strength as well. It is a very respectful exercise with the joints that is good for this part of the body. Not so much for the lower body as it does not develop the speed of contraction, which is crucial to achieve a higher cadence.
The leg muscles, mainly the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves, on the other hand, perform concentric contractions (those that shorten the muscles during effort). In this it differs from sports such as athletics, where most of the contractions are eccentric (the muscle lengthens during effort).
8. You will save the planet
Or you will contribute to it. An Oxford University study by Professor Christian Brand warns that electric cars are not a panacea for pollution-free cities. For 2 years, each trip of about 4,000 people living in different European cities was recorded, calculating the carbon footprint of each one.
Surprisingly, the carbon footprint of daily commuting is up to 84% lower for people walking or cycling than for those using other modes of transport. "We found that, for the same commute, bicycle emissions can be more than 30 times lower than those of a fossil-fuel car, and about ten times lower than those of an electric one," says Professor Brand.