Easy Rider: Why It’s Time to Tear Up the Bus-Pass and Get Cycling!
There are few better ways to spend an afternoon than cycling through the countryside and exploring the many beautiful landscapes that the UK has to offer. However, if recent research is anything to go by, it seems that putting foot to pedal might be just as beneficial for the body as it is for the spirits.
A study recently undertaken at the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences in Oslo has discovered that cycling and other activities are not only great for your health, but can extend your lifespan too.
The Importance of Exercise
The research, which involved 6,000 men in total, monitored levels of activity among participants over a period of 12 years, placing them into groups according to levels of fitness.
Those who did under an hour of light activity a week had no reduction in risk of dying from any cause. However, engaging in a minimal amount of exercise; even as little as an hour a week, could reduce risk of dying from any condition by as much as a third, providing that the exercise was high-impact enough. Those who engaged in vigorous activity for over 3 hours a week reduced their risk of dying from any cause by nearly 50%.
Professor Holme, who led the study, comments: ‘Even when men were 73 years of age on average at start of follow-up, active persons had five years longer expected lifetime than the sedentary.’
In addition to this, another study, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports in 2011, found that cycling could help reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems and boost overall levels of fitness.
Time to Get on Your Bike?
Official guidelines from the NHS advise that we should be engaging in 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, and 75 minutes of vigorous activity. However, apparently three quarters of the population fail to do this, thus raising their chances of developing heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Cycling is an easy way to meet these exercise targets. It also has the advantage of being well suited to anyone, regardless of age or ability. It’s considered a relatively low-impact exercise, which means it will have less impact on your joints than other forms of exercise, such as aerobics classes or running. However, don’t underestimate it. Just because it’s low-impact, doesn’t mean it’s not excellent for your body.
In fact, according to the NHS, if you weigh around 12st 9lb, you’ll burn over 650 calories by cycling for an hour, in addition to toning muscles in the legs and bottom. If you start riding up hills, you’ll be giving your upper body a good work-out too.
How to Get Cycling
If you have an existing health problem, it’s advisable to talk to your GP before starting cycling. However, if you’re in good physical health, there’s no reason why you can’t begin cycling today! Before you start, however, it is imperative to invest in the right protective equipment and to familiarise yourself with basic road safety, to ensure you enjoy your cycling experience accident-free.