Whether you need a little motivation or are looking for a few facts to give your friends as to how cycling can improve your overall health, we’ve got you covered. From boosting your immune system to reversing the effects of aging, here’s what the latest scientific studies have to say about all of the amazing benefits cycling daily can have on your health and well-being.
BOOSTS YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Too much inflammation in the body is a bad thing — particularly for your immune system. While weeks of hard training can increase inflammation, according to this study consistent, moderate exercise can lower inflammation levels, improve defense activity and metabolic health and boost immune regulation. So, instead of stocking up on vitamin C, all you may need to do is get on the bike at least 3–5 times per week.
IMPROVES YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
In addition to potentially helping lower the risk of developing diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s by increasing BDNF proteins, cycling has also shown to boost emotional health, too. This study illustrates how daily activity, like cycling, can help lower cortisol levels in the brain, which is associated with lowering depression symptoms and treating common disorders like anxiety.
REDUCES HEART DISEASE RISK
There’s little debate that regular cardiovascular exercise is beneficial to heart health. Just in case you need proof, this study explains how cycling can lower your chances of developing heart disease. As for heart attacks, another study showed cyclists who biked to work have on average 15% fewer heart attacks than those non-cyclists among us. The sweet spot seems to point to at least 20 minutes on the bike per day to receive heart-related health benefits.
Anyone who’s spent any time in rush hour traffic on the way to and from work knows just how stressful it is. Instead of dealing with it day after day, why not commute to work by bike instead (see statistics above)? You’ll not only make more of your time and be more productive at work, but you’ll also lower your stress levels. This study shows how individuals who exercise regularly are more resistant to the emotional effects of acute stress, which can also help prevent many mental diseases commonly associated with chronic stress.
AIDS WEIGHT LOSS
Because cycling is low impact and can be done at a moderate intensity for extended periods, it’s long been known to be a top choice for anyone looking to lose weight. While diet is generally an important part of any weight-loss plan, this study showed that even without diet restrictions, individuals who were obese and cycled daily for six months lost 12% of body fat, and cycling was a more effective activity than the walking and swimming groups in the same study.
REDUCES CANCER RISK
While there isn’t necessarily a cure, exercising — and more specifically cycling — can help lower your risk. This study shows how commuting to work can lower your cancer (up to 45%) and overall mortality rate from disease significantly. For women, here’s yet another research study showing consistent daily exercise at moderate-intensity levels can lower the risk for breast cancer.
Contrary to popular belief, research now shows cycling doesn’t actually cause sexual dysfunction. While you’ll still want to make sure you’ve got a properly fitting saddle that doesn’t put undue pressure on your sensitive spots and cause numbness, getting on the bike may actually benefit your sex life rather than harm it. This study details how exercise increases sexual behavior in men, while this one explains how cycling may increase sexual desire in women.
If you want to look and feel younger, all you may need to do is get on the bike. Researchers of this study found cycling at high intensities increased mitochondrial capacity, which can help slow the aging process and prevent age-related diseases. As for your muscles, cycling may also help to reverse age-related muscular atrophy with a regular routine.
Cycling and exercise, in general, are great ways to combat disease and lower your risk as you age. As it turns out, lowering your risk for Type 2 diabetes is another benefit. While sedentary lifestyles have shown to increase risk factors, there’s evidence that daily recreational and commuter cycling can decrease late-in-life initiation of diabetes.
If you ride regularly, then you’re probably aware of all those good feelings you have following exercise. While some of this might be attributed to runner’s high and all those endorphins released in your brain following physical exertion, this study shows that even as little as 20 minutes of exercise can boost a person’s mood for up to 12 hours. All you need to do is get your heart rate up to at least 112 beats per minute while you ride to get those happy feelings for the rest of your day.