The Benefits of Cycling
Who knew…. who knew… that when the “Laufmschine” was introduced in Europe by the German Baron and inventor, Karl Drais in the nineteenth century (the same man who invented the typewriter) the BICYCLE (also known as the velocipede, the draisine or dandy horse) would have such an enormous impact on our society?
Bicycles have been adapted in our society as children’s toys, courier services, military and police applications, for leisure, for mountains and hills, for adult fitness and for competitive road racing.
There are several categories of bicycle racing including road racing (a la Tour de France, Giro d’Italia etc.), cyclocross, mountain bike, track cycling, BMX and bike trials. Cycling is recognized as an Olympic sport and many of us who once took the bike for a spin, end up getting the complete bike gear and ride to compete with ourselves, other cyclists on the road and train as often we can for our personal Olympics or Tour de France.
What is the drive behind this human powered, pedal driven speed machine?
Cycling is a great activity that can be enjoyed as a group sport but also individually. It’s an incredible workout which not only provides pleasure but also increases our overall fitness. It’s one of the most effective exercises, it helps us to burn those extra calories, boost our metabolism level and YES, even reduce stress, anxiety and depression – especially when on the road with a captivating view of some mountainous terrain or city skyline. So after a long day in front of the computer, for many, there is nothing better than going on a bike ride, compete, let off steam, enjoy the landscapes and of course exercise.
Let’s look at the major benefits of cycling and enjoy this summer, knowing that with each km, we doing our body some good.
Strengths and muscle tone: Cycling is a great exercise if you are looking to strengthen and tone your muscles particularly in the leg area.
Build endurance: Biking is an effective way to push your resistance and to build endurance; you can try different speeds and pedal circulations going uphill and downhill, alternating between heavy and light resistance as you push your body.
Improve your cardio-vascular fitness: Everybody should dedicate a minimum 30 minutes, at least 3 times a week in order to keep our bodies healthy. While on the bike, we breathe deeper and perspire more; we raise our body temperature and stimulate the sweat glands and burn fat at a higher rate. Of course, on hills, our heart-rate picks up considerably too.
Many people think that cycling is a fitness activity which only involves and strengthens the legs muscles. This isn’t necessarily true. Below, we have divided the body in 4 muscle categories that are constantly under pressure when cycling.
Power Muscles, as we like to call them, like thigh muscles, quadriceps and hamstrings are all major muscle parts that are used and toned while on the bike. Glutes, muscles throughout the pelvis and calves help us moving forward and push the bike up the hill.
Balance and stability muscles: The core muscles in the torso are vital for maintaining balance and for keeping your riding position solid. Abdominal muscles, internal and external obliques and the paraspinous (next to the spine) help you to keep the balance and work hard when you are on the bike. Don’t expect an instant six pack just from riding the bike, but regular bike exercise will keep the core strong and definitely smoother.
Steering muscles in the arms, forearms and shoulders are important for controlling the bike and and braking: Your upper body gets an all around workout especially when weight is shifting forward on the downhills.
The Heart should probably be included to the power muscle category, but we figured we give it its own special mention. While cycling, the blood supply to the body and the heart rate increases. As an aerobic activity, cycling on a regular basis lowers the risk of heart diseases, risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
After an intensive workout our body screams for some relaxation time. MADFORM Double Strength, our extra strong muscle recovery cream, helps your muscles to recover after physical activity.
Cycling is a great excuse to get out and see something different. In the next two posts we will take you on an international journey though Europe providing cycling tour preparation tips and some awesome cycling destinations.
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