Every cyclist has a story of how they first got hooked on wheels. Sometimes the momentum begins suddenly and the next thing you know you’re training for an epic century ride. Others discover the sport accidentally. Perhaps it started out when you were looking to save a few bucks on gas.
Whatever the initial spark, there’s never been a better time to hop on your bicycle and hit the road or trails. Cycling is one of the most accessible and diverse sports out there. Let’s take a look at a few major benefits of riding your bike.
1. Increase Your Stamina
Cycling is one of the top ways to increase your cardiovascular stamina. Whether you’re an athlete training for another sport or just starting out, you can exercise on a bike without the same muscle pain and fatigue you normally feel. Here are some ways you can train to increase your stamina:
When you start your routine, begin with a few moments of high-intensity riding and increase your intervals a little bit every day.
Use a heart rate monitor to find your optimal rate and slowly work to maintain it for longer periods of time.
Track your distance with a journal and increase your miles from week to week until you reach your goal.
All of these techniques are proven to increase your stamina to the desired level. The best part? Post-workout, your heart keeps pumping even after you hop off.
2. Connecting to Your Community
One of the best benefits of cycling is making great social connections. It’s easy to find a recreational group in your area and cheer each other on. Here’s how to find a community of cyclists:
Visit your nearest bicycle shop and ask for tips on local rides or groups in your area.
Search community events online through a cycling organization that includes listings in every area.
Don’t have a group near you? Establish a community yourself.
Don’t be surprised if you begin looking at your neighborhood from a different perspective as you explore new paths and trails nearby.
3. Better Mental Health
Finding a community of other people with the same interest is just one of the ways cycling can enhance your mental health. There are other ways it can bring peace to your life and make you feel better when you do it.
Getting outdoors and enjoying nature is great for your overall sense of wellbeing.
Regular exercise will decrease your stress level overall and even help your sleep patterns become more regular.
Gain improved cognitive function, especially in older adults.
Individuals who are regularly active and outdoors with others will experience tremendous benefits regardless of how they ride.
4. Accessible to Anyone, Anywhere
Cycling is one of those sports that is easily adaptable to any location and any ability. It’s no wonder physicians recommend it for both rehabilitation and as a low-intensity workout anyone can do. Here are some ways you can make cycling adapt to your lifestyle:
Ride indoors on a stationary bike or set up a stand and bring your bicycle inside for the season.
Use a sitting exercise bike if you have limited mobility.
Try e-bikes for health and rehabilitation workouts.
The best thing about cycling is the flexibility it gives you in your workout. Put your child on the back in a trailer or enjoy a tandem ride – there are so many options to make it fit your lifestyle and have fun at the same time.
5. Gain Core Strength
Having a strong core is essential for good long-term health. Here’s how cycling helps you gain core muscle tone:
Balancing and being on a bike creates an ideal posture to strengthen your mid-section.
Shifting your weight as you navigate obstacles on a rugged trail will tone your muscles even more quickly.
Riding up and downhill can really push your limits – if you’re looking for a strong core make sure you add in some inclines.
You’ll enjoy so many benefits by strengthening your core – fewer injuries, better digestion, and losing inches to your waistline to name a few.
Whether you’re looking to stay connected, increase stamina or rehabilitate after injury there’s a cycling routine that fits you – all you need to do now is hop on your bike and go for a ride!
Photo credit: Albrecht Fietz