The Positive and Negative Health Benefits of Cycling

Couple riding their bikes

According to many fitness experts, cycling is one of the best forms of exercise available. A bicycle can be an inexpensive tool for the fitness conscious to help keep their bodies fit and healthy. It is a versatile machine that is designed to minimize stress as well as maximize exercise efficiency.

The popularity of cycling in the United States as a form of exercise or as a recreational activity is marginal. This is despite the fact that Americans like Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis have been immensely successful at major cycling events including the Tour de France.

The bicycle in its present form was first introduced in Europe as late as the nineteenth century and was introduced in the US shortly afterwards. However, over a period of time the Harley-Davidson motorcycle and the American Auto became more popular, especially with the growth of the monoculture suburbs.

Cycling helps tones the leg muscles

Cycling offers numerous benefits. It gives the body a fast and energetic workout. There is a definite shaping, toning and firming of the thighs, the calf muscles and the pelvis region. Fat melts away and is replaced by muscle.

Some studies suggest that cycling is one of the few exercises that can help reduce cellulite from the thigh region. There is relatively less stress on the knees and ankles while cycling as compared to other activities like running and aerobic exercises.

Cycling improves circulation

Even though bicycles are used more for recreation than for normal day-to-day transport, the health benefits of cycling are being recognized around the world and this simple machine is increasingly being used to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Apart from burning away body fat and getting rid of cellulite, cycling reduces the chances of heart diseases, and also increases the body’s protection against various forms of diabetes and high blood pressure.

This is because cycling facilitates blood circulation throughout the body, which carries oxygen-rich blood to all the muscles. The heavy breathing experienced after a few minutes of cycling increase the intake of oxygen, making it an effective aerobic exercise.

Cycling is excellent for reducing stress levels

Cycling can also be used as a stress-buster activity. A long, leisurely cycle ride along the coast or through other scenic terrain can definitely help reduce stress levels. In fact, all these benefits were an impetus for the invention of the exercise bike, a stationary cycle that can be used to burn calories from the comfort of the home.

Some negative problems associated with cycling

Nonetheless, cycling is not recommended for people with joint problems and arthritic pain, who should try swimming instead for full body weight support. Cycling also helps develop the abs to a certain extent.

However, constant cycling can put severe strain on the back, which most often is left unsupported. People with these concerns should select a bike with a backrest rather than a sports or mountain bike.

Another problem with prolonged cycling is that studies have shown it can be a cause of impotency for male cyclists. The continued stress on the lower abdomen results in loss of sensation in the penile region, reducing the sperm count and causing injury to the testes.

This is however only relevant to those who cycle professionally, staying on the machine for more than six hours each day.

One comment

  • Mike

    A nice article but very much centred on “sporting” cycling. Have you never wondered why cycling is marginal in the US? Maybe it is because you are completely ignoring the other sort of cycling, i.e. everyday cycling as a means of getting from A to B. Once you enter this more civilised and democratic cycling domain the whole picture changes and for example, your warning that people with joint problems should avoid cycling certainly loses some if not all of its relevance.

    So, keep up the good work, and do not get me wrong, sporty cycling is great as well, but do try to remember at least to acknowledge that you can have other approaches to riding your bike. I think this is important since I believe there is an approach or riding style that would suit virtually everyone, if only they could understand.

    Large scale adoption of the bicycle as a means of transport would not only improve society beyond recognition, but may ultimately be our salvation. By the way, I live and ride in Europe and I know our problems are not the same as in the USA but I wish only to provide a little food for reflection. Kind regards, Andrew

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *