Here are our Top 4 reasons to cycle more. Our reasons include building lean muscle, losing weight, reducing your risk of serious illness, and improving your mental health.
Reason # 1 to Cycle More: To Build Lean Muscle
We all know that regular exercise will help us to build lean muscle. But unless you’ve got amazing will power and the dedication of a young Schwarzenegger, it’s pretty much impossible to get to a gym every day. In fact, after trying for decades, I have pretty much given up on the gym. It’s just not fun. Most people would agree that in order to stick to an exercise plan, the trick is to find a way of exercising that you can do for many hours per week, month after month. For that, it needs to be as much fun as possible. You need to want to do it.
That is exactly where cycling comes in, because cycling is fun, Often, it’s so much fun that it’s exhilarating. Many people get positively addicted to the daily exhilaration and endorphins provided by a fun bike ride.
Cycling Outdoors is Fun
I can ride a bike outdoors for hours, but on an indoor stationary bike, five minutes feels like five hours, because it’s just so BORING. Cycling outdoors, your entire body and brain are engaged all the time, so it’s not boring at all. Whether you’re dodging traffic or enjoying the scenery, it’s all engaging and definitely NOT boring.
Cycling Builds Lean Muscle in Your Legs and Core
Plenty of cycling will build lean muscle, especially in your legs and core. As we all know, more lean muscle means we look better, perform better in all aspects of life, and feel better.
And there’s an added bonus to having more muscle. The more lean muscle you have, the more efficiently your body will burn calories. Muscle tissue burns more calories – even when you’re at rest – than body fat. Scientists are still arguing about how MUCH more it burns, but it seems reasonable to assert that muscle tissue burns at least three times as many calories as fat tissue (Source: ACAP).
This brings me to Reason # 2 to cycle more.
Reason # 2 to Cycle More: To Lose Weight Cycling
Cycling burns a very large number of calories, and this will help you lose weight. And it’s a FUN way to burn a large number of calories. You could also burn about 500 calories an hour by climbing up the side of a cliff, but why would you want to do THAT?
Plus, you keep burning more calories even after you get off your bike, because you have raised your metabolic rate.
Mark Simpson of Loughborough University says: “Even after cycling for 30 minutes you could be burning a higher amount of total calories for a few hours after you stop.” (Source: Bike Radar)
Related Post: How Many Calories do You Burn Cycling?
Reason # 3 to Cycle More: To Reduce Your Risk of Serious Illness
Regular exercise from cycling protects against the major causes of death, which include cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer, and high blood pressure. For example, Purdue University researchers have proven that regular cycling can reduce your risk of a heart attack by up to 50% (Source: Save a Life by NHCPS).
People who bike to work usually have a fitness level of a person ten years younger. It is reasonable to conclude that cycling more will give you many more years of living. Not only that, but they will be quality years of life, because you will be fit and healthy.
The health benefits of cycling are so huge that cycling is TWENTY TIMES less dangerous than not cycling!
Cycling also protects you from being sick: transit riders are six times more likely to develop acute respiratory infections than cyclists (University of Nottingham study). That is of course just the tip of the iceberg. Cycling protects you from an entire range of serious illnesses, as detailed in our popular post, Research Shows Exercise is a Miracle Cure.
Reason # 4 to Cycle More: To Improve Your Mental Health
For many people, exercise is at least as effective as drugs for fighting depression. And of course, exercise has only positive side-effects (unlike drugs, which often have extremely negative side-effects).
Cycling gives you an endorphin rush that can keep you in a good mood for hours. It certainly does this for me: by the time I get to my destination, I’m in an upbeat mood that often lasts for hours.
Also, the more time we spend in natural light, the better we feel. Natural light boosts your levels of the feel-good hormone, serotonin.
“Exercising outside exposes you to daylight. This helps get your circadian rhythm back in sync and rids your body of cortisol, the stress hormone that can prevent deep, regenerative sleep.” (Professor Jim Horne, Loughborough University Sleep Research Centre)
Researchers at Stanford University agree, and have proven that as little as twenty minutes of biking a day helps to cure insomnia.
Related Post: How Cycling Helps You to Sleep Better and Get Healthier
A Bike Can Change Your Whole Life for the Better
To quote the bike salesman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid:
“Meet the future; the future mode of transportation for this weary Western world. Now I’m not gonna make a lot of extravagant claims for this little machine. Sure, it’ll change your whole life for the better, but that’s all.”
So what are you waiting for? Get outside, get on a bike, and change your whole life for the better! And if you seriously want to get fit with cycling, check out my Average Joe Cyclist’s Beginner Cyclist Training Plan: Phase 1.
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