Bicycling has been a long-time hobby which produces both long and short-term benefits. It’s an enjoyable activity which involves being outdoors and away from the less beneficial pursuits such as television, computer and the refrigerator. It’s a vigorous interest that not just the young and healthy can participate but kids as young as toddlers and the elderly as well. In addition, provided they have the proper equipment, disabled person can too. Cycling fits into a person’s lifestyle easier than many other physical activities because it can be used practically, to go from one place to another unlike, say, swimming which is fun but much more limited by the time of year and availability. It’s easier on the body’s joints than jogging while getting from point “A” to point “B” much quicker and with less effort. Chief among its numerous benefits, cycling is good for health, both physical and mental as well as good for the environment.
One of the main health benefits of cycling is that it strengthens the heart, develops endurance and improves circulation which reduces the risks from coronary heart illnesses, one of the major causes of death. Gaining endurance also lowers the chances of contracting some types of cancers and diabetes. Muscles are strengthened and toned from cycling particularly those located below the waistline such as the thighs, buttocks and legs. Many of those who have weakened or injured joints and cannot run to stay in shape turn to cycling to help keep them active because it is a lower impact exercise. Maintaining a proper body weight is not just good for the ego but benefits health in several, well documented ways. A cyclist burns a great deal of calories especially if they are riding a good distance or at a moderate to fast pace.
Cycling also has the benefit of increasing a person’s metabolism, their inner engine, even after the ride is finished. Reducing body weight lessens the strain of joints making cycling a duel benefit for those who suffer from weakened knees. Weight loss, like improved cardiovascular function, lowers the risk for strokes and heart ailments. Another duel benefit is that cycling strengthens the immune system which, like reducing the chances coronary heart illnesses, lowers the risk of contracting certain cancers. Eye-hand coordination is greatly enhanced by cycling. Stabilizing the body’s weight while moving both legs in a circular motion and using both hands to steer the bike enhance coordination skills. Improving coordination improves agility, athleticism and reaction time, useful in everyday tasks, especially helpful as a person ages. Speaking of, cycling increases a person’s lifespan via the health benefits previously mentioned. It’s a fun way to get healthy and stay healthy while adding years to your life. (Markham, 2011).
Another health benefit of cycling is improved mental health. Any type of exercise nourishes and builds the brain. Peddling a bicycle not only enhances the amount of blood flowing through the heart and muscles but the brain as well. The more blood that is pumped through the brain the more effectively it functions. As a person peddles it forces additional nerve cells to discharge which increases the formation of proteins and other compounds. This action encourages new brain cells to form. Cycling can double or even triple the number of neutrons produced, actually building brain function. Additionally, exercise encourages the activity of neurotransmitters increasing the efficiency of communication between both old and newly formed brain cells. Think of it as building a 4G network to replace the old 3G by taking a relaxing ride through the country or by getting to school or work on your bicycle. Enhancing and developing brain cells while improving the communication lines between them is increasingly vital as we age because as we grow older the brain contracts and those lines of communication naturally grow weaker. Bicycling protects and restores the brain and to no one’s surprise, a larger, better connected brain functions better. “Adults who exercise display sharper memory skills, higher concentration levels, more fluid thinking, and greater problem-solving ability than those who are sedentary.” (Yeager, 2014).
Cycling acts to improve environmental health too particularly if one rides a bike to commute to and from school and/or work. It reduces a person’s carbon footprint and has been characterized as a green method of transport especially when compared to driving a fossil fuel burning car for all means of getting around town. Bicycles don’t spew air pollutants and reduce the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels. According to the U.S. Census nearly half live closer than five miles from their place of employment. Total emissions would be reduced by more than five percent, a substantial amount, if those people rode a bike to work instead of driving their car. Vehicles produce nearly one-third of all carbon dioxide and 80 percent of all carbon monoxide emitted into the air each year. Shorter trips are proportionately worse due to engine warm-up factored into the equation. Cycling to work when practical would make a big difference in the reduction of the gasses creating climate change. Cyclists, generally speaking, are in better physical condition than motorists who tend to be more obese which means cyclists use fewer energy resources in a range of areas such as food production and transportation. (“Bicycle Buying,” 2015)
The benefits of cycling are numerous not just for the person peddling but for the environment therefore society as a whole too. It’s a heart health hobby that enhances brain activity and reduces carbon gas release. It’s also a fun outdoor activity which stimulates the senses which are dulled by staying indoors too close to the television and refrigerator. Unlike both swimming and running, cyclists can enjoy a conversation with a fellow rider. Cycling is easier on the joints than running and can be enjoyed all seasons unlike swimming. All-in-all cycling is a beneficial physical activity and hobby.
- Bicycle Buying Guide. (2015). National Geographic. Retrieved from http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/green-guide/buying-guides/bikes/environmental-impact/
- Markham, Derek (Oct. 3, 2011). The Top 7 Health Benefits of Cycling. Discovery Channel News. Retrieved from http://news.discovery.com/adventure/the-top-7-health-benefits-of-cycling.htm
- Yeager, Selene. (March, 2014). Your Brain on Bicycling. Bicycling. Retrieved from http://www.bicycling.com/training/fitness/your-brain-bicycling