Cycling:To work and for play
Published: May 26, 2017
What do you envision when you think about cycling (or bicycling)?
Do you see cycling as a means to improve and maintain your fitness, a means of transport to get you to work or other daily activities, or something to do on your own or with family and friends as a fun leisure time activity?
Maybe the last time your rode a bicycle was when you were fifteen before you gained your driver's license.
Perhaps you have never ridden a bicycle or only used a stationary bicycle.
If you use a bicycle, outdoor or stationary, regularly you probably know about many of the health benefits associated with cycling.
If you want to find out more about cycling, its health benefits, and whether cycling is something you may like to try read on.
There are two categories of bicycles: outdoor bicycles and stationary, indoor bicycles. Both outdoor and stationary bicycles can be used to improve and maintain various aspects of fitness and as a physical activity associated with health benefits.
Cycling can be a form of aerobic exercise and can improve your cardiovascular endurance when you pedal continuously during your cycling session and avoid coasting for any length of time. Maintaining a steady pace will also help you maintain your training heart rate in a range appropriate for aerobic training.
Cycling can also be a form of anaerobic exercise when you introduce interval training by performing sprints and hill climbs interspaced with coasting. Short intense sprints or hill climbs will challenge your cardiovascular system for short periods of time.
If you cycle regularly you will build muscular endurance and muscular strength mainly in your legs. Your arms, back and core muscles are also utilised when you ride a bike.
Other physical fitness related benefits to be gained from cycling include improved body-composition, balance, co-ordination, reaction time and flexibility to a small degree.
These fitness benefits are similar to those to be gained from regular jogging, but since cycling is not weight bearing there is less stress on your joints and because you will work your muscles slightly differently to jogging, cycling makes a great cross training alternative to jogging and running.
The health benefits to be gained from cycling also correspond to that of jogging and other moderate to intense physical activities when performed on a regular basis.
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American Council on Exercise (1996). Personal Trainer Manual. San Diego, CA: American Council on Exercise
Whitney, E. & Rady Rolfes, S. (2005). Understanding Nutrition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth