Cycling: An easy and restorative activity for all ages

For many people, cycling is a delightful pastime that lets you to get some fresh air as you explore your neighbourhood or head off the beaten track to be in nature. But health experts advise that cycling be more than a mere hobby – it offers numerous benefits to one’s physical and mental health [1].

Why cycling?

As it is quite straightforward to start and is suitable for most fitness levels, cycling is one of the world’s most popular forms of physical activity. Here are five reasons to start:

  • Easy: unlike other types of sports that need an extraordinary level of physical skill and training, most people already know how to cycle. It is easy to learn, and once you do, you never forget.
  • Low impact: compared with other types of exercise, cycling results in fewer strains and injuries and can be appreciated by all people of all ages – from young children to senior citizens.
  • Time effective: aside from being a form of exercise, cycling could also actually be used as a mode of transportation.
  • Muscular strength: almost all primary muscle groups are used as you pedal.
  • Enjoyable: when done on an actual bicycle, gets you out of the house and reasonably presents the rush of adventure while helping you keep fit.
As it is quite straightforward to start and is suitable for most fitness levels, cycling is one of the world's most popular forms of physical activity. Here are five reasons to start:
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The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends that adults should accomplish at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity weekly, like cycling, to boost your health. Analysis has shown that cycling can help with the following:

Blood pressure: as those with hypertension risk developing cardiovascular disease, cycling could serve as primary therapy for preventing these conditions. According to research, one’s blood pressure can lower by as much as 4.3% after three months and 11.8% after six months.

Cardiorespiratory health: cycling for at least 150 minutes weekly has been shown to significantly enhance lung health while supporting the immune system’s defences against respiratory infections. Regular cycling can also help boost lung function in those with existing respiratory conditions. It could, for example, be part of a pulmonary rehabilitation programme for people with chronic obstructive lung disease.

Cardiovascular health: according to one study, those who cycle to work have a 46 per cent lower risk of contracting cardiovascular disease and a 52 per cent lower risk of dying from the condition. In addition to boosting heart health, this study also suggests that cycling to work may lower one’s risk of cancer.

Mental wellbeing: exercise can improve one’s mood in different ways, as activity triggers the natural production of endorphins and adrenaline, on top of the increased confidence that comes with accomplishing goals. Cycling incorporates outdoor activity, sightseeing, and physical activity. Cyclists can choose to ride alone, allowing them to think through problems or issues or with a group to expand their social circle.

Weight management: cycling is a beautiful exercise to help lower body mass, as it boosts metabolism, tones muscles, and burns fat. It is adaptable, allowing a person to customise the duration and intensity of their workouts. You can lose up to 300 calories an hour with moderate cycling.

Why cycle with babies and toddlers?

The diverse range of bike seats, trailers and children’s bicycles makes it easier to cycle with young children than ever.

Your young baby can cycle with you if you have a specialist “freight” bike or a trailer. For babies over 12 months, they can use a bike seat. As they grow bigger, you can progress to using a “tag-along” bike or get them their tricycle or bike with stabilisers.

Here’s some reasons why it’s good to start young [2]:

  • Enhance your positive mental attitude and your toddler’s – cycling can help to relieve stress
  • Enjoy an activity together in the fresh air as a family that’s free and fun
  • Establish a healthy activity to your children while they are young
  • Improve your fitness
  • Interaction improves your bond with your toddler
  • Travel around your city/town for nothing

Health benefits from cycling

Getting on a bike and cycling with your oung ones can help you see the kind of health benefits gym members aspire of because cycling can:

  • Firm the thighs and bottom and can even help tone core muscles
  • Increases your metabolic rate, helping you to keep the weight off
  • Have you more fit than an average person ten years younger

And don’t stop at your immediate family – cycling spans the generations.

People of all ages can enjoy it so grandparents can get involved too.

It’s easier to learn to cycle when you’re young, and it’s a life skill that your kids will have forever.

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For the safest and most comfortable cycling experience, consider the following:

  • Attire and accessories: fabrics with fibres that control moisture, which prevents chafing, are recommended. Wear bright colours and reflective materials to help you stand out and be visible to other vehicles. Bicycle lights, reflectors, and horns or bells can also help draw attention to your presence.
  • Helmet: the chance of severe head injuries in a bicycle crash is reportedly reduced by about 50% by wearing a helmet. This should be essential, even for short distances.
  • Padded saddle: using a saddle with padding can support the body and decrease pressure tension, eliminating any tingling, numbness, or discomfort.
  • Pollution exposure: although the advantages of cycling outweigh the risks of air pollution exposure, one might want to consider steering clear of peak-hour traffic and opting for cleaner, greener routes.
  • Position: a suitable and comfortable seat height is essential for preventing injuries and improving performance.

Who should avoid cycling?

If you are healing from injuries that cycling could aggravate, it is advisable to avoid riding until you have entirely recovered. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, do consult your doctor first.

A stationary or adaptive bicycle might be more suitable for those with balance, vision or hearing issues.

Also, be aware of rhabdomyolysis, a rapid breakdown of muscle tissue that occurs due to overexertion during exercise. Proteins called myoglobin and electrolytes from the damaged muscle tissue would be released into the bloodstream, which, in large quantities, could harm the kidneys and heart.

Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to push yourself past the limits of what your body can accomplish – cycle moderately and diligently.

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[1] https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/leisure/health/2022/08/23/cycling-an-easy-and-beneficial-activity-for-all-ages/
[2] https://www.sustrans.org.uk/our-blog/get-active/2019/everyday-walking-and-cycling/the-benefits-of-cycling-for-children-and-families

Photograph: Friends Stock/Shutterstock
The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.