Ride On! The Benefits of Biking

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(Photo: Instagram / @teenegee)

Today marks the start of National Bike Month, and it’s no surprise that cycling is one of the most phenomenal ways to get in shape this season. Guaranteed to give you energy and tone up your lower body, pumping those pedals not only preserves our health, but the environment’s too.

More and more researchers are discovering cycling boosts the same cardiovascular benefits that you get from any other form of aerobic exercise, like walking, jogging, or dancing. By improving our well-being from head to toes, the benefits of cycling are plenty and hard to beat.

Types of Cycling

Recreational Riding
Spice up your cardio routine by taking your bike for a joy ride or ditch your car and pedal to work. Not only will you gain cardiovascular benefits that include improved blood pressure and heart rate, but you’ll also feel more energetic. Ideal for all ages, it’s an easy integration for a daily habit.

Spinning
Spinning is more than just a retro favorite. Today, plenty of fitness clubs and spinning studios offer classes across the country. As motivating pumps of music and an instructor guide you through a sweat-fest on a stationary bike outfitted with a 40-pound flywheel, this adventurous workout provides some serious resistance. Reminiscent of an outdoor bike ride through hills and sprints, spinning gives your legs, core, and upper body an effective workout at your control.

Mountain Biking
While it isn’t perfect for everyone, if you crave outdoor adventure and don’t mind getting a little dirty, cross-country biking is bound to be your new favorite cycling style. Biking along hilly dirt trails over rocks, roots and logs, mountain biking will get your adrenaline and heart pumping. Additionally, it’s physically demanding and will challenge your core, while engaging your leg muscles. If you’re a first-timer who is interested, join a beginner’s clinic to help you navigate the unpredictable terrain.

Benefits of Cycling

Gut Health
Life can be stressful and because of it, our diets often lack the nutrition we deserve. When this happens and we don’t eat accordingly or drink enough water, we feel a little “backed up.” According to Bristol University, cycling helps maintain a healthy gut and reduce bloating by stimulating the contraction of intestinal muscles.

Heart Health
As a fast-paced aerobic exercise, it’s no secret cycling reaps a slew of heart healthy paybacks. In a study from Purdue University, researchers discovered cycling as little as 20 miles each week could decrease a person’s risk of developing heart disease by 50 percent. Considered a rising epidemic in the U.S., cardiovascular diseases and stroke cause one in three women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds.

Better Sleep
When you ride hard, you sleep hard — well, sort of. Bicycling reports jumping on a bike helps you sleep better at night as studies suggest the less fit you become over time, the more trouble you experience when trying to nod off. Though studies are unclear as to why biking benefits REM cycles, the University of Georgia says exercise calms anxiety, which is one key cause of insomnia.

Wonderful Waistline
When you end up cycling at a faster pace, you’re not only scorching a ton of calories, but ramping up your metabolism. Touted an effective way to weight control, Harvard University discovered biking for as little as five minutes a day can help women minimize weight gain as they get older.

Brainpower
Because of its high intensity attributes, cycling can help build new brain cells in the hippocampus — the region responsible for memory, which begins to deteriorate at the age of 30. In a study from Illinois University, Professor Arthur Kramer suggests cycling boosts blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which helps fire off and regenerate receptors.