By Lisa Brooke
Aug 11, 2016
You already know that cycling has a multitude of health benefits. It burns calories, helping you to lose weight. It strengthens and tones muscles, making you stronger. It's great for your heart, reducing your risk for heart disease and high cholesterol. Did you know that cycling is also great for your mind? There are several studies proving that cycling provides mental and emotional benefits, making this exercise a true whole body workout.
Before you even hop on your bike, it's crucial that you don the proper safety equipment in order to fully reap all of cycling's benefits. You won't be feeling too happy if you experience a fall that leaves you scraped up and bruised, if not worse. Choose your cycle wear based on the type of riding you plan on doing. The right bike wear will help you stay safe, and therefore happy:
- Helmets: Cycle helmets are the most commonly used pieces of safety equipment and the bare minimum of what you should wear. A bike helmet keeps you safe, protecting your head and brain from potential injury.
- Chest armor: Unlike the heavy metal armor that most likely comes to mind with these words, biking armor is lightweight and designed to give you complete freedom of movement.
- Elbow, shin and knee pads. For extra protection of vulnerable areas.
- Gloves. Not only do gloves keep your hands protected from potential road rash, they can protect them from the weather and provide cushion against vibrations, preventing your hands and arms from going numb during long or particularly bumpy rides.
- Cycling glasses or goggles. These not only block harmful UV rays, they also protect your eyes from flying dirt and debris.
One of the first mental benefits of riding is that it is proven to reduce stress. Getting on a bike and pedaling away takes you out of a stressful situation, allowing you to clear your mind. You are concentrating on other things, like the scenery around you, rather than stewing over what is creating the stress, such as a project at work.
When you ride a bike, you are in complete control of the situation, rather than the situation controlling you (which is often a major source of stress, feeling as though you are completely out of control). You choose the directions. You get to decide how fast or how leisurely you ride.
Cycling is also one of those activities you've probably done since childhood, so therefore it often brings up those memories. When life was stress-free. Remembering those carefree days can also help with stress reduction.
Cycling is one of those activities that helps you sleep better. While part of this is due to the fact that you are exercising, a lot of it has to do with the fact that you are outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Natural light helps to regulate your circadian rhythm, or your internal clock. The light tells you it's time to be up and be active, so since you are doing so, when it's dark and your body tells you it's time to sleep, you can actually sleep. This is one of the many benefits of riding outside in the indoor vs. outdoor cycling debate.
It's been proven time and time again that regular exercise gives you more energy. It improves both your heart muscle and your overall circulation, which in turn increase your energy levels. It also doesn't hurt that since you're most likely sleeping better, you'll have more energy during the day as well.
Look Better, Feel Better
Cycling also can also make you feel good. Physical activity releases endorphins, a hormone that naturally makes you feel this way. So, if you ever find yourself in a sour mood, hopping on your bike and pedaling around the block can do a lot to improve your outlook.
As you ride consistently, you also achieve the health benefits of losing weight and slimming down. You have probably come to like the new shape that biking has given you. As a result of enjoying your new appearance, chances are you feel better about yourself and therefore have a higher self-esteem.
Quality Family Time
Looking for a way to increase family time? Cycling is a great way to do just that. And there's the added bonus of getting everyone outside into nature and away from their electronic devices, which have seemed to dominate so much of children's time in the past few years.
Cycling is one of those things that everyone can take part in. Grab your family and hit the pavement!
- Have small children that are about the age they can start learning? Help them pick out a new bike with training wheels and ride along beside them.
- Sporting some really young ones? Bike manufacturers have created special carts that you can attach to your bike, allowing you to tote your little ones around in, giving them a chance to catch the breeze in their faces.
- Grandparents can take part too. Biking is a low impact activity, meaning that it's easy on the knees.
Cycling is an excellent activity to improve not just physical health, but mental and emotional health as well. Don't waste another minute. Get out there and pedal yourself to a happier state of being!