8 Health Benefits of Cycling (That Aren’t Just Physical)
You probably already know that cycling is good for you – any exercise is better than no exercise, right? But did you know that riding a bike offers a whole host of additional health benefits besides the physical perks? Here are eight benefits of cycling that will make you happier, healthier, and more stoked to keep riding.
1. More Brainpower
A study conducted by Charles Hillman back in 2007 showed that exercise boosts brainpower and helps to stave off Alzheimer’s in the elderly. That same year, Dr. Phil Tomporowski showed that kids are even more positively impacted by time on the bike – and that exercise can help control issues like ADD.
2. Faster Recovery
A recent study found that elderly patients with knee pain and osteoarthritis actually improved their condition when cycling was introduced to their routines, proving that as we get older, taking time to exercise – even just spinning a few minutes a day – can be hugely beneficial.
3. Improved Heart Health
Cycling is also great for your heart – although not just because you love riding so much (though that’s a great reason too!). A recent study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise spent five years looking at the activity of 1,500 subjects. Those who were active on a daily basis were 31 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure.
4. Sexier Vibes
Best news ever: You aren’t the only one who thinks spandex is super hot. A survey of 600 men and women commissioned by The British Heart Foundation found that cyclists were perceived as 13 percent more intelligent and cooler than other people, and a whopping 23 percent said a cyclist would be their preferred blind-date athlete.
5. Less Fat
It shouldn’t really come as a surprise that weight loss is one of the big benefits of regular cycling, but it bears repeating. The media is often quick to promote the idea that diet is the only way to actually shed fat, but science shows otherwise. A recent study showed that older, diabetic women could only drop visceral fat if exercise, along with diet, was introduced into their routine. The same was proved true for younger women.
RELATED: 14 Tips That’ll Help You Lose Weight By Cycling
6. Lowered Risk of Cancer
Maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, and a conscientious diet (think: lots of leafy greens, lean proteins and healthy grains) all help lower your risk of cancer. And a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association recently looked at nearly 14,000 men and concluded that those with a higher fitness level as they approached middle age were at a lower risk for lung and colorectal cancer.
7. Higher Self-Esteem
It’s no surprise that exercise in general (and cycling in particular) helps improve your self-esteem. The next time you take the perfect mid-ride selfie, score that Strava QOM or KOM you’ve been chasing, or finish a really hard workout, your body will release a whole bunch of feel-great hormones that will make you feel like you can take over the world.
8. A Longer Life
According to one study of Tour de France riders, cycling actually increased the racer’s longevity. On average, the former pros lived to 81.5 years compared to the general population’s 73.5 years: a 17 percent increase! Another study suggested that even casual bike commuters benefit: For individuals who shift from car to bicycle, it was estimated that three to 14 months of life could be gained compared to the potential downsides of bike commuting.