Cycling has gripped the nation over the last few years as we watch British successes around the world. Whilst we can’t match the exploits of Chris Froome, Laura Trott, Jason Kenny, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Becky James and all their team mates, we can give our body a great overall workout and have a great deal of fun in the process.
It’s estimated that in the UK, 3.1 million people ride a bicycle each month. In an attempt to get even more people, and especially women, riding bikes for fun, The British Cycling Federation have launched the Breeze programme.
Their aim is to help thousands of women feel confident about going on a bike ride, and have lots of fun along the way. You can find the link to the website at the bottom of this page and by putting in your postcode, you can find local, organised rides in your area. The rides are graded by difficulty and length and are free to take part in.
If you’re tempted to start riding your bike again, read on to find out why you should consider doing so.
Cycling is easier than many other forms of physical activity. It’s low-impact, which means it doesn’t put too much strain on the muscles, and it doesn’t require high levels of physical skill. It’s suitable for people of all ages and once you learn to ride a bike, it’s a skill you never forget.
It’s a Good Muscle Workout
Cycling involves using all of the major muscle groups as you pedal. It therefore builds up your muscle strength and flexibility over time, improving your overall fitness and stamina.
It’s a Way to De-stress
Cycling is said to reduce anxiety, psychological problems and depression. Try to find a route that involves little traffic and pleasant scenery for the most relaxing experience. Remember to take it easy at first and build up gradually as you would with any exercise.
Unlike many forms of exercise, which you need to set aside time to engage in, cycling can actually be a time-efficient activity. You don’t need to cycle for the sake of cycling – you can cycle to work or to the shops, or to anywhere else you need to visit throughout the day. In this case, it simply replaces other modes of transport and has the additional bonus of being great for your health.
You Can Socialise
Cycling with a partner, friends or part of a group is a great way to socialise and meet new people. This also helps improve your overall wellbeing and mood. The Breeze programme mentioned above, may be just the start you need to kick start your riding.
It Helps with Weight Control
Cycling raises your metabolic rate, burning body fat and helping you to maintain a healthy weight or to shed excess pounds. Research shows that taking just a half-hour bike ride each day burns five kilograms of fat over a year. Just keep in mind that if you’re cycling as part of a weight-loss plan, you need to be sticking to a healthy, balanced diet too.
It Reduces Your Risk of Illness
Like many forms of exercise, cycling reduces your risk of various diseases and health conditions when done regularly, as it improves your heart, lungs and circulation. It has been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and even cancer – particularly colon and breast cancer. It has also been linked to decreased chances of developing arthritis and suffering bone injuries, as it improves strength and balance, while putting very little pressure on the joints.
It’s Fun and it makes you Happy!
Cycling is one of the more enjoyable forms of exercise. It’s easy, it gets you outdoors, and many people enjoy the buzz of rolling along the streets and coasting down hills. Exercise in general releases your endorphins and gives you that much needed, positive rush. In fact, many view cycling as a recreational activity rather than part of their fitness regime – the fact that it’s a beneficial form of exercise is simply a bonus!
If you’re new to cycling or haven’t cycled before, it’s never too late to learn. Find a safe, traffic free environment to start off in, such as your local park, and get plenty of practice before you take to the roads. Before you know it, you’ll be cycling with confidence and reaping plenty of health benefits.
If you would like to find out more about The British Cycling Federation’s Breeze programme, please click on the link below: