A healthy body and mind can make us achieve anything we want in life. Despite the hectic schedules we have at work or at home, we must take out at least some time for physical activities. We can perform so many physical activities to stay fit and what could be more fun and better than cycling. It is one of the most effective and interesting ways to stay fit and active throughout the day. We can use cycling for transportation, recreation and as a sport too.
We can easily include cycling in our daily routine by riding to the local stores, market, office, college and schools. Cycling is very relaxing and can keep us focused for a long time at work. This way, we can also contribute towards a clean environment because conventional vehicles emit harmful pollutants damaging our health. If we want some fun along with a good body stretch then cycling is the best way to do that.
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Benefits of cycling:
To get a clear idea, let us have a look at the following benefits of cycling:
- Less risk – Cycling gives less strain and lowers the risk of injury than other intense physical activities or workouts.
- Strengthen with the stretch – We stretch as we pedal and brake. Hence, cycling strengthens the muscles and builds our stamina. It further enhances our fitness.
- Fun with fitness – Imagine riding to the hills, peaceful lanes or to adventure. Cycling is one of the most adventurous and fun activities/sports along with staying fit. It is fun riding a bike alone or with our friends and enjoying fitness.
- Easy and balanced – Unlike other skillful and technical/machine physical activities, cycling is easy to learn and continue. We can practice it regularly and further enhance our balance.
- Environment friendly – Cycling is a good combination of fitness and pollution free activity. Unlike other conventional IC engine vehicles, cycling doesn’t emit harmful pollutants and carbon footprints in the environment. Thus, it promotes clean and fresh air. This lowers our risk of getting infected with respiratory diseases. Hence, being environment friendly.
- Correct posture and time saving – Sitting for a long-time riding vehicle can strain our back but cycling can actually relax our back with the stretch enhancing our posture. Thus, it keeps a good check on the spinal cord and muscles.
Health benefits of cycling:
- We can enhance our breathing with regular cycling as it involves a proper workout of our blood vessels, lungs and heart. This further enables us to breathe deeper and effectively.
- Increases our stamina and strengthens our body muscles.
- Lowers the risk of anxiety and depression as it gives a sense of fun and enjoyment along with good health.
- It reduces the risk of getting cardiovascular diseases which are basically heart strokes, heart attacks and high blood pressure. It regulates blood circulation and improves the fitness of our heart by enhancing heart muscles.
- Lowers the risk of danger from diabetes. Diabetic people are more weak. Cycling regularly for at least 30 min daily can lower the risk of problems. If we are not diabetic then cycling daily will lower the risk of getting it.
- Helpful in osteoarthritis and strengthens our bones further lowering the risk of getting bone issues.
- We can continue cycling in case of breast and colon cancer too. It reduces the chance of bowel cancer. Few studies show that cycling regularly reduces the risk of breast cancer.
- Cycling regularly burns body fat. It raises our body temperature which makes us sweat more. Including it in our regular routine can do wonders in reducing our body weight. It also prevents us from getting obese.
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It is true that cycling has numerous health benefits but it has some disadvantages too. Let us understand the disadvantages in the following ways:
- Pressure on nerves and arteries – Sitting for long hours on the hard bicycle seat puts immense compression on our nerves and arteries. We feel pain and get issues with the reproductive organs if we cycle excessively.
- Bone related issues – Bone loss is one of the major disadvantages. We may have problems with bones if we cycle too much. The problem may lead to osteopenia in spines. Studies have shown that a lot of young people are suffering with this issue.
- Numbness – It’s true that our hands and feet get numb from cycling for long hours. In some cases, the numbness causes big issues with nerves further.
- Lower and upper back pain – We feel tightness in our back after cycling. Sitting on a bicycle and cycling for hours leads to heavy pain in our lower and upper back.
- Nerve injuries– As we sit on the narrow and hard bicycle seat, we are likely to get neurological issues. This is because we keep our body weight constantly at one position.
- Issues with heart rate – If we have heart issues, we must visit our doctor before opting for cycling. Cycling causes heavy and fast blood flow which may put stress over our heart. This can happen in case of an existing heart issue.
- Worsens an existing and major health issue – We sometimes pay heed to all the common suggestions given for our health. However, before opting for cycling at an old age requires a doctor’s effective check-up. Cycling without consulting a doctor may worsen an existing health issue.
- Road accidents: One of the major disadvantages of cycling is getting fatal accidents. No matter how well and responsibly we ride, there is a risk of getting injured while riding on roads or lanes. Big trucks, buses and cars hit the bicycles/bikes while breaking traffic rules or in case of drink and drive. Other factors include: Potholes, oil spills, big pebbles, slippery mud, improperly built roads.
- Uneven weather conditions – We feel safe from heavy wind, rain and storms when we drive our cars unlike riding bicycles where we come in direct contact with the uneven weather. Due to the exposure to heavy rain and wind, we may fall sick too.
- Lanes and trails – It is not safe and good to ride in open and crowded roads daily. We require a greater number of lanes and trails to continue cycling.
Disadvantages of cycling for women:
- High risk of urinary tract infections may occur in women cyclists.
- Genital numbness when women cycle intensely.
- Pelvic floor muscles generally tightens up which may cause issues.
- Sores on thighs and area near genitals. Excessive cycling also put pressure on nerves.
- Loss of sensation and other problems due to excessive cycling.
- Ladies may feel pressure on the bladder and urethra. This occurs when you bend on the hard bicycle seat for a long time. This may lead to some infections in the urethra of women cyclists.
- There can be a risk of any kidney infection.
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Who should not cycle?
Is cycling good for everyone? It completely depends upon the conditions like:
- If we are under doctor’s observation for a certain health problem, then we must pay heed and should not cycle.
- People with serious heart issues.
- People with major leg injuries should not cycle.
Things to remember before starting cycling:
- We must remember to always wear a helmet before starting our ride
- We should keep our cycling essentials like pumps and extra tires ready. We can also take our bike for a regular check up to any bike repair store. It will be much better if we learn how to change the tire of our bike.
- We must carry a water bottle while cycling. We may carry something to eat if we want.
- We must remember to ride in the direction of the wind. This makes it easy for us to maintain our balance and ride safely. And, in the case of a stationary bike, we can simply pedal with an appropriate posture.
- In order to avoid chafing, we must try to wear shorts or comfortable clothes. We may carry lotions with us if the chafing worsens.
- We should remember to carry gloves. It enhances our grip, protects hands from further blisters and protects our hands if we fall.
- We may start cycling by riding to the local stores, small lanes. It will be fun and a healthy exercise daily.
Indoor and Outdoor Cycling:
- Indoor cycling – In indoor cycling, there is a stationary bike in a classroom setting. We remain in a confined space and continue our cycling.
- Outdoor cycling – This is an activity which involves cycling outside our house. We can ride to mountains, lanes, terrains, fields, and trails.
Which is the best?
Case 1 – It completely depends upon us how we want to ride. If we are more of an indoor person, then indoor cycling is best for us. If we are more of an adventurous person and love to ride in nature or want effective and more exposure for our stretches, then we can prefer outdoor cycling.
Case 2 – However, in some cases outdoor cycling is better because indoor cycling enables us to be in the same position for a long time in a confirmed location unlike outdoor cycling where we get more exposure and can stretch our muscles and ride by changing places that suits better.
Case 3 – The other point is that, if we are running short of time and also to avoid other problems like changing tires and gears, along with uneven weather conditions, then in this case indoor cycling is best.
Indoor Cycling Vs Outdoor Cycling:
|Indoor cycling||Outdoor cycling|
|We carry out cycling inside the workout room/house||We cycle outside the house like: to lanes, trails, terrains, local stores, mountains etc.|
|We use a stationary bike in a classroom setting.||We use a personal movable bike which is not stationary.|
|We are safe from uneven weather conditions and fatal accidents.||We get injuries and problems due to uneven weather.|
|It benefits a certain age group who can’t cycle outside due to other reasons.||It is beneficial for all nature lovers and fitness enthusiasts.|
|Prevents bike theft||Someone may steal our bike from the parking location. It can happen due to less security at any place.|
|We can cycle at any time of the day.||There may be issues if we want to ride at night. We can cycle at a specific time.|
|We can opt for this cycling if we live in an area which has a large crowd and traffic.||Less private lanes and trails create issues for cycling.|
|It normally requires a good investment for a basic setup and maintenance.||It has cheap maintenance.|
|The cycle has a flywheel. As a result, the machine lets us use our legs effectively.||We pedal against the friction of the road and in the direction of the wind. So, it gives a good workout to our back and quadriceps|
Cycling offers a positive impact on the overall health of people. However, we need a proper infrastructure plan to build more safe lanes and trails for bikers around the country. We can urge the government to limit and fix the speeds. The nature is unpredictable, hence, we need arrangements and proper execution on stationary bikes and indoor infrastructure.
Yes, it is good for all ages. The exception includes people with some serious health issues and under doctor’s observation.
We should cycle for at least 30 min a day. However, we may increase our time and intensity according to our requirements.
We may have a healthy breakfast with less fat. We also can have a healthy shake before we head towards our stationary bikes at the gym or at home.
Yes, we must wear helmets if we ride outside.
Surveys show that excessive and intense cycling may produce complications. However, normal cycling everyday can in fact improve fertility and overall health of ladies.
Yes, some studies show that cycling can in fact reduce period pains. As the heat in the body promotes blood flow which helps in the production of pain relieving chemicals. So, without worrying, you can definitely cycle during periods.
Yes, indoor cycling is safe during pregnancy. However, please get a final confirmation and checkup from your doctor.
Yes, cycling daily burns calories and makes us slimmer.
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