Bicyclist on cliff overlooking mountains and valley.

Why do you cycle?

Ask cyclists this question and you will get all kinds of answers. Many will say they cycle because it is fun and keeps them healthy—just like any other simple physical exercise. What you may not know is that there is something special about cycling. This activity that you take lightly can literally change your life, present and future, in amazing ways.

Here are the findings of numerous scientific studies.

You'll Stay Young

Do you ever come across people who look too young for their age? Well, you can become one of those people if you take your bike time seriously. Two separate studies found out that cycling as a physical exercise keeps people in good shape well into old age.

How?

One and a half hours on your bike every day reduces your risk of developing depression, disability, respiratory issues and all the conditions that come as you get older. The cyclists in the study were twice as likely to remain healthy.

The older you get, the weaker your immune system becomes. As soon as you hit your twenties, the organ that develops T-cells shrinks and, consequently, the level of these cells declines. Now, T cells are the most significant immune cells. A weaker immune system will cause you to be sickly and miserable. Cycling facilitates the development of these cells and keeps your immune system strong. It was discovered that some older avid cyclists had the immune system of a fit twenty-something-year-old.

You'll Be Skinnier

Losing weight can be a stressful experience. But does it have to be?  No one is saying that cycling is an overnight solution as far as weight loss is concerned. You will still have to watch your diet and change your lifestyle for the better.

However, bike riding is way more enjoyable compared to other painful exercises—and you can make it more fun. Set some days to go riding in the woods or along your favorite terrain. Get some air and clear your head in the process. When you don’t feel like going out, hop on your indoor bike trainer and use a bike riding app. Between these apps and cycling outdoors, you can find something new and exciting for every day of the week.

Purposefully ride for at least one hour a day and you will burn about 500 calories. This is at a moderate speed. When you crank things up you will see better results.

You'll Be Happier

Stop chasing happiness. It is right where you are.

Cycling helps with stress, anxiety, and depression. Your mental health influences all aspects of your life—how you relate with your loved ones, the quality of your sleep, your job, decision making, and just about everything else.

With stress, anxiety, and depression constantly weighing you down, you are less likely to be happy and “live your best life”.

The human body is incredible in many ways. When you are exercising it excretes stress hormones or cortisol. At the same time, it facilitates the creation of some feel-good hormones such as dopamine and endorphins. They make you feel relaxed, quickly brighten your mood, act as painkillers, and clear your mind. This leads to reduced stress levels.

High levels of stress have been known to cause depression when not managed. So it is safe to say that cycling can curb depression. Besides, physical exercises such as bike riding have proven to have the same effects as anti-depressants. Not only that, but it also prevents one from developing depression altogether and reduces anxiety sensitivity.

As your mental health improves, so will your sleep habits and self-esteem.

You'll Have Better Memory

What does cycling have to do with one's memory?

 A study published in 2016 showed that the brain grows as a result of physical activity. Aerobic exercises such as cycling make the hippocampus grow like a muscle. This section of the brain is used for learning and memory. Bigger muscles make you stronger; a bigger hippocampus makes your memory better. You’ve got to love science.

As this section of the brain grows bigger, it receives more nutrients and oxygen. In the process, you will find it easier to remember and learn. The best part about this is that researchers are still trying to find out more. This awesome benefit may be one of many. If you are tired of finding yourself in awkward situations because of forgetting people’s names, then maybe you should ride your bike more.

You'll Not Get Sick Often

Boosting T-cell levels is not only beneficial to older people. There are so many diseases, you cannot even name them all. Everyone could use a stronger immune system.

Recent studies are showing that bike riding can reduce the risk of developing certain cancers such as breast and colon. Since there are a lot of other factors that cause cancer, cycling will not necessarily prevent its development but at least it reduces the risk.

Other diseases that can be prevented by cycling include diabetes and respiratory problems. The main contributing factor to the development of type 2 diabetes is inactivity. A quick bike ride a day can reduce your chances by a whole 40%.

Don’t let your bicycle gather dust because you are busy with other things. Riding it is equally important. The above benefits are guaranteed to improve the quality of your life. When you are happy and healthy, it becomes easier for you to work out other issues that you are having. May this motivate you to take to cycling and use your bike more.


by David De Haan | Bike Trainer World

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