Learning to ride a bike is one of those rites of passage that most of us went through as a kid. Figuring out how to balance on just two wheels seemed like quite an accomplishment at the time, often coming after plenty of painful trial and error. But our bikes would eventually become our most prized possessions; providing endless hours of fun while giving us our first tastes of true independence. We didn’t know it at the time, but learning to ride also provided us with a skill that could lead to a much happier and healthier lifestyle too. It turns out that riding a bike is a great way to exercise and burn calories, even as an adult. Whether you’re on a stationary bike indoors, or a road bike outside, here are five ways that cycling can help you to achieve your fitness goals.
1. Lose Weight
Cycling is a great way to lose weight, with riders burning as many as 500 calories or more per hour. To do that you’ll need to maintain a quick pace, and a high cadence, which is the number of revolutions that the crank on your bike makes in any given minute. By constantly pedaling, and rotating that chain, your body will achieve an elevated heart rate and burn calories at a surprising rate. A nice, leisurely bike ride is good for when you want to take it easy, but if your goal is to shed some pounds, you’ll need to work hard.
2. Improved Cardio
In addition to burning plenty of calories, keeping a high cadence will also work the lungs and heart as well. That leads to better levels of cardiovascular fitness, which translates into all kinds of benefits, including increased stamina, reduced risk of heart disease, a longer lifespan, and better energy levels.
3. Build Lean Muscles
Everyone knows that cycling is great for the leg muscles, but did you know that it can tone the muscle throughout the rest of your body too? Riding a bike is an excellent all-around workout that actually works the arms, chest, back, and shoulders along with the calves and thighs. This is particularly true while climbing hills, so don’t avoid those parts of your riding routes as they are often the most beneficial.
4. It’s Low-Impact With High Returns
As already mentioned above, cycling is a great way to burn a lot of calories and lose weight, But, it also happens to be a low-impact sport, meaning it puts much less stress on your joints than some other types of exercise. This makes riding a bike a great change of pace for runners, or athletes who are recovering from an injury. It also makes cycling a good option for cross training too, as it allows your body to recover from more high-impact activities, while still providing a tremendous workout.
5. A Stronger Immune System
Regular exercise can provide a significant boost to your immune system, helping you stave off such ailments as the flu or even the common cold. Riding your bike a few times a week can help contribute to improved immunity from these types of viruses, while also helping to create a lifestyle that is healthier in general. Obviously cycling provides undeniable health benefits, which has helped to make it a popular activity for those looking to improve their overall levels of fitness. But riding a bike also happens to be a lot of fun too. We knew this as kids, and we can still appreciate those same exhilarating feelings of speed and freedom today. If you haven’t hopped on a bike in awhile, perhaps now is the time. You may discover that you not only still enjoy it, but it makes you a healthier person too.