Have you ever seen cyclists on the road and thought to yourself: “Why are they riding a bike?” We can all imagine the physical health benefits that cycling provides; however there are also several psychological benefits as well. Additionally, cycling is good for the planet. Below are 9 reasons that you should start cycling.
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- The obvious first answer, right? However, the New Year is just around the corner. Why not get a head start on your weight loss goals? Cycling is a cardiovascular exercise, which means you raise your heart rate to burn calories. An average female rider going 12-14 mph can burn around 350-600 calories an hour. Cycling targets your thighs, glutes, and abs.
- “Even after cycling for 30 minutes, you could be burning a higher amount of total calories for a few hours after you stop,” says sports physiologist Mark Simpson of Loughborough University.
Strengthen Your Brain
- When you cycle, more blood floods to your brain cells, which strengthens them. Exercise also releases hormones that mix with BDNF (which contributes to cell growth, emotional stability, and learning).
- Cycling also releases dopamine; dopamine is commonly known as the happy hormone.
- It helps with your memory. A recent study by the University of Columbia concluded that cardiovascular exercise increases the size of your hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that stores learning and memory.
- Cycling is a form of stress relief for your body. It reduces stress hormones and produces hormones like dopamine.
- When you become fit, your body handles stress better. Your body becomes more resistant to burnout or sickness
- Cycling is also good meditation. When you are pedaling, you body enters a rhythm. If you focus on the rhythm, your brain will forget about all your small problems.
Be Gentle with Yourself
- Cycling is also low-impact. It causes less strain on your joints and bones. It can also be done by all age groups.
- Cycling is convenient. You are able to park almost anywhere and you also avoid traffic.
Give Back to the Earth
- Cycling is a clean form of transportation. It does not pollute the air with carbon dioxide like driving does. Carbon dioxide is the main contributor to global warming; therefore, if you decide to bike, you are contributing to a greener planet.
- There are 70% more cars on American roads now than 50 years ago. With all these extra cars, there needs to be more space to put them. New roads also need to be built in order to drive. About 20 bikes can fit into the space of a single parking spot. If the population were to trade their cars for bikes, the planet would stay green longer.
Make the World a Safer Place
- The more cyclists on the road, the safer it becomes for bike riders.
- According to an article from Business Insider: “It’s a virtuous cycle,” Dr. Julie Hatfield, an injury expert from the University of New South Wales, says. “The likelihood that an individual cyclist will be struck by a motorist falls with increasing rate of bicycling in a community. And the safer cycling is perceived to be, the more people are prepared to cycle.”
- The price of gas is going up. If you trade in car for a bike at least 3 times a week, you could save a substantial amount of money. Approximately $20 a week.
- Bikes are about 30 times cheaper to maintain then a car.
- According to the Sierra Club: “If American drivers were to make just one four-mile round trip each week with a bicycle instead of a car, they would save nearly 2 billion gallons of gas. At $4 per gallon, total savings would be $7.3 billion a year.”
- Riding your bike also saves the cost of the gym. Gym memberships can run up to $400 a year.
- A New York City’s Transportation Alternatives study has stated that if you ride your bike fewer than 3 miles, it usually takes less time than if you were to drive.
- If your trip is 5 to 7 miles, your bike ride will usually take around the same time.
- Cycling can easily become a social exercise. If you see a cyclist on the road, you already know you have something in common.
- Chances are there are cycling groups in your area. Give them a shot. Nothing wrong with expanding your social group.
Don’t Forget to Stay Safe:
- If riding at night (and even during the day), wear bright fluorescent and reflective clothing. Don’t forget to use lights.
- Helmets save lives. Wear one.
- Make sure you’re visible to cars and pedestrians. Be sure to ride with traffic.
- Consider getting a bell for your bike. It is a good way to alert pedestrians you are approaching.
- Do not weave in and out of traffic without signaling to drivers. If you don’t signal, you leave them wondering what you’re going to do next.
- If there is a cycling lane, make sure to stay inside it.