Saddle up to change your life, says Louise Pyne
What’s not to love about cycling? There’s no greater pleasure than the feeling of freedom you get pedalling out on the open road. And let’s not forget that cycling – whether on an indoor bike in the gym or touring the streets – is the perfect way to get your exercise fix. Here are our favourite reasons to saddle up today.
Reason 1: Keep slim
Want an awesomely fit body? Hit the spin bike! High-intensity spinning classes offer a great head-to-toe toning workout and they’re suitable for everyone – regardless of your fitness level. The interval sessions really challenge your lower body and the calorie-burning potential is pretty impressive, too. ‘The most beneficial part of spin classes is the intervals, as they challenge the body so
you can get the most out of your workout,’ says Chris Foster, professional head
of fitness at nuffield health ( ). Looking for a fresh alternative to your regular spin class? Check out BOOM Cycle, it’s an awesome indoor cycling class with an emphasis on fun and great music, it’s a firm team WF favourite ( ).
Reason 2: It’s better for the environment
Nobody wants to live in a world clogged up with unhealthy carbon emissions that wreak havoc on health. So ditch your car and get on your bike instead. A study by the European Cyclists Federation found that Europe could reduce its CO2 emissions by a quarter if its population cycled as regularly as the Danes.
In Denmark the average person cycles almost 600 miles annually, while the average Brit logs in a meagre 46 miles each year.
Reason 3: See the world
Whizzing around on two wheels is the perfect workout to take you away from home and out exploring new places. ‘Cycling lets you see the world – whether you want to hit the MTB trails or head out for a ride on the road. You can travel to places that you didn’t even realise existed and appreciate buildings and views that you have only ever bypassed in the car,’ enthuses Wiesia Kuczaj, cyclist and Sigma Sport Team MuleBar Girl ().
Reason 4: Add years to your life
Turn your commute into your workout and not only will you save money, you could also lengthen your lifespan. A 20-year study by Copenhagen’s Bispebjerg University Hospital found that women who cycled every day at a vigorous pace lived on average 3.9 years longer than slow cyclists. So get pedalling hard, people!
Reason 5: Improve joint health
The low-impact nature of cycling makes it an accessible sport for those who are at risk of joint injury and also enables them to increase the volume and intensity of their riding at a faster pace. ‘Consequently, cycling may help you to reach your health and fitness goals more quickly than is possible in more technical and/or weight bearing sports, such as running,’ explains performance coach James Hewitt ().
Reason 6: Boost your mood
A brisk bike ride (riding at 85 per cent of your maximum capacity) sends endorphins flying for hours after. Cycling has been found to triple the levels of the feel-good chemicals circulating in the bloodstream. ‘Even if you’re riding slowly, just three low-intensity bike rides per week can result in significant improvements in feelings of energy,’ says James.
Reason 7: Get fast results
If you don’t have time to factor lengthy exercise sessions into your schedule, cycling is the perfect solution. ‘If improving fitness is your goal, research suggests that just two weeks of 22-minute, high-intensity cycling workouts may be as effective at improving measures of cardiovascular fitness as 90-120-minute, moderate-intensity rides,’ James says.
Reason 8: Improve heart health
Cycling is also good for your heart. A 2011 study published in the British Medical Journal found that cyclists who clocked up 20 miles a week were 50 per cent less likely to develop cardiovascular disease than non-cyclists. Sounds like a good reason to get pedalling!
Reason 9: Cycling kit is cool
The boom in biking has resulted in an influx of ultra-fashionable, yet functional, wardrobe options. ‘Gone are the days of woollen jerseys and questionably short shorts. Cycling, its equipment and its attire have been near the head of sports innovation for a number of years; developing kit that not only works, but looks good, too,’ says Wiesia.
Reason 10: Make new friends
Getting on your bike will help you get your social fix while working out. Cycling clubs are a great way to foster new friendships with like-minded people and improve fitness at the same time. ‘Cycling for many is a great way to catch up with friends. Get online and find your nearest cycling club to join and meet fellow cyclists,’ advises Wiesia.