The popularity of biking continues to soar every day. Cycling was for a very long time, considered a middle class or a manly activity. Today, both men and women have taken up biking either as a sport or a lifestyle.
Surprisingly, it has become the symbol of urbanity. However, biking is not just a fashion craze. It is a cost-effective and healthy way to get around. Below are five health benefits of biking outdoors.
1. Weight Loss
Obesity is one of the biggest health problems in America. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 42.4% of the U.S population is overweight. Physical activities, such as biking is an affordable and fun way to manage your weight. The appeal of biking as an exercise is that you can start slow and increase the intensity as you get fitter.
An estimated 400- 1000 calories are burnt every hour, depending on the duration of biking. Unlike running or going to the gym, biking is a low impact form of exercise, meaning it put less weight on your joints. You are, therefore, less likely to suffer joint-related injuries. Of course, for this to work, you will have to watch what you eat as well.
2. Build Muscle
Biking is a form of resistance training. In addition to burning fats, it also builds muscles in the long run. The lower body muscles, such as glutes, calf, thighs, and feet, are the most targeted during cycling. However, be wary of injuries by training at proper intervals and using cycling clothes can help keep muscles tight, wick sweat and prevent discomfort and injuries. Other muscle groups that are toned during cycling include the abs and your back.
The result is less pressure on your spinal cord and improved balance. That’s not all. Biking also works out one of the most critical muscles – the heart. A healthier heart reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack, high blood pressure, and stroke.
3. Better Mental Health
When you are riding a bike, blood is pumped faster to all parts of the body, including the brain. The blood transfers oxygen and nutrients to the brain, keeping it healthier and sharper. As a result, the rate of cognitive decline significantly reduces.
Mental illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s occur due to the loss of brain cells. These degenerative brain diseases lead to loss of essential brain functions such as memory. Riding a bike is, therefore, the equivalent of training and feeding your brain cells.
4. Better Sleep
Good night sleep is just as important as eating correctly. Unfortunately, many people struggle with sleeping problems. Riding a bike could be a secret to enjoy a good night’s sleep finally. For instance, going on a bike ride in the evening raises your body temperature.
As your body cools down to its optimal temperature, it gives you a feeling of drowsiness. In addition to sleepiness, cycling also reduces stress levels. These two effects combined are the best sleeping aids you could ever need.
5. Stress Relief
We all go through stressful situations in life, but the difference is how we deal with it. A survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) has shown that it is an effective way of managing stress. Engaging in physical activity reduces the production of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, such as dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals are natural mood boosters.
The higher the intensity of your exercise, the faster they are spread to your body. Reduced stress levels help keep mental conditions such as depression at bay. Additionally, cycling is also a great way to makes friends. Whatever town or city you are in, there is likely a community of cyclers. Socializing with others is a great way to forget about your problems.
Riding a bike can do you a lot of good. Hopefully, these five health benefits will compel you to set aside some time to ride regularly. You can bike as a hobby or go full-out and ride your bicycle to work daily. The choice is yours. Whatever you do, remember to stay safe. Don’t take any chances with your safety. If you want to enjoy biking, then you will need a full set of gear. Helmets, shorts, shoes, and gloves are some of the basics. For mountain biking, you might need pads and goggles as well. It’s better safe than sorry.