The climate crisis is dominating global news right now, and that’s not going to change any time soon.
One of the consequences of this is that people are starting to look more closely at how eco-friendly their everyday habits are.
But you don’t have to quit your job, move to the woods, and reject civilization in order to have a positive impact on the planet.
It’s possible for us to promote sustainability and look after the environment without dramatically altering our lifestyles. And one of the best ways to do this has an added benefit: improved physical and mental health.
Of course, we’re talking about cycling.
In this article, we’ll be discussing how cycling improves health and promotes sustainability, focusing on these key topics:
- The Benefits Of Cycling: Physical Health
- The Benefits Of Cycling: Mental Health
- How Cycling Helps The Planet
- The Key To A Healthier, Happier Life
Ready to find out more about how cycling improves health and promotes sustainability?
Let’s get started!
The Benefits Of Cycling: Physical Health
The physical health benefits of cycling are seriously impressive.
Whether you’re a long-term bike fanatic or a beginner cyclist who’s just looking for some daily exercise, biking is an excellent source of physical activity.
One of the best things about cycling is that it’s low impact, meaning that it causes less strain and is less likely to lead to injuries than most other forms of exercise.
Here are some of the key physical health benefits cycling provides:
#1. Increased Cardiovascular fitness
Cycling strengthens your heart muscles, lowers your resting pulse, improves lung function, and reduces blood fat levels, having a massive overall impact on cardiovascular health.
A number of studies have revealed that those who ride bikes throughout their life are at lower risk of heart disease and diabetes, proving the cardiovascular benefits of cycling.
#2. Improved Posture
You might not think cycling encourages amazing posture, seeing as it doesn’t involve standing up straight with your shoulders back. But actually, it’s great for improving posture.
Riding a bicycle forces you to keep your back straight and avoid slouching. Grasping the handlebars and pedaling keeps your body engaged, even when you’re leaning forward, which in turn strengthens your lower back muscles.
Keeping an eye on your posture is also a great way to avoid cycling injuries.
#3. Increased Muscle Strength And Flexibility
Cycling tones and strengthens the muscles in your legs and hips, particularly your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. Riding hills and increasing your intensity will help you build serious leg muscle.
Riding a bike also works out some other key areas of the body. For a start, it’s excellent for working your core. Your core muscles function as a platform to push the pedals from, so these muscles can be developed by regular cycling.
#4. Decreased Body Fat Levels
Cycling is great for helping to control or reduce weight, because it raises your metabolic rate, builds muscle and burns body fat. However, it’s important to combine any exercise with a healthy eating plan.
Check out our article on What Makes A Healthy Cycling Diet if you want to learn more!
#5. Improved Sleep
We all know that exercise tires us out in the short term, but in the long term, a lack of exercise can actually seriously harm our ability to sleep properly, according to a recent University of Georgia study.
Riding a bike and accessing all the mental and physical health benefits that come with it can be great for improving your sleep and ensuring you get the rest you need each night.
The Benefits Of Cycling: Mental Health
In recent years, big strides have been made when it comes to people opening up about their mental health.
Whether it’s talking to a friend, writing in a journal, or visiting a professional, there are a number of things that can be done to help you manage your mental health.
One of the simplest and most effective ways of giving yourself a positive mental boost is taking part in physical exercise.
And when it comes to alleviating stress, reducing anxiety, and clearing your head, there aren’t many better activities for it than cycling.
#1. Stress Relief
Physical exercise is one of the most commonly-used ways of blowing off steam and getting away from it all when you’re stressed out. The fast, low-impact physical movement of cycling is perhaps the best of the bunch when it comes to stress relief.
And there’s research to back it up. According to several scientific studies, regular cycling significantly reduces the risk of stress and lowers the level of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body.
#2. Reduced Anxiety
Cycling can help with anxiety, too. By releasing endorphins (‘feel-good’ hormones), riding a bike helps relax your mind, boost your mood, and reduce feelings of anxiety.
Various forms of aerobic exercise are proven to reduce anxiety, but the fact that cycling is a low-impact exercise makes it perfect for anyone whose main aim is to get fit and boost their mood.
#3. Great For Socialising
Another amazing thing about cycling is that it provides you with opportunities to meet new people, spend time outdoors, and exercise with friends.
This social element of riding a bike cannot be overestimated when it comes to improving your mental health. Combating isolation and loneliness by socializing with others is one of the greatest ways you can tackle issues like depression and anxiety.
#4. Greater Calmness And Mindfulness
One of the biggest mental health benefits of cycling is the enhanced sense of calmness and mindfulness that it encourages.
When you’re out riding your bike, you’re totally engaged with your present moment experience, focused on bodily movements, the breath, and the path directly in front of you.
This kind of mindful experience helps make you calmer and more aware of your surroundings.
#5. Improved Self Esteem
Getting stuck into a cycling training program and exercising consistently will give you an immense sense of personal achievement. You’ll feel healthier and stronger, and your self-image will be boosted as a result.
How Cycling Helps The Planet
But cycling isn’t just good for your body and your mind. It can also help the people around you, and the planet as a whole.
Tons of ideas have sprung up in recent years about how we can be more environmentally friendly, and different methods will always suit different people.
Ultimately, though, one of the simplest and most effective ways of reducing our impact on the environment is to avoid using transportation that involves fossil fuels.
Riding a bike is a quick, efficient, and practical way of getting about that doesn’t do damage to the planet.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for every mile ridden, one full pound of CO2 is saved from being released into the atmosphere. Over time, that can have a real impact.
But what is it about cycling that makes it so good for the environment?
#1. Reduced Air Pollution
The term “air pollution” refers to the small particles, chemicals, and gases that are released into the air by motor vehicles (amongst other things).
Air pollution from fuels like carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide is harmful to both ourselves and our planet. Choosing to cycle instead of using motor vehicles helps reduce carbon emissions and leaves the air cleaner.
#2. Reduced Noise Pollution
Cars and motor vehicles are also responsible for a good deal of noise pollution, which can be damaging for humans, animals, and the wider environment.
Cycling helps to reduce the number of motor vehicles on the roads, which lowers congestion and limits the noise coming from engines.
#3. More Green Spaces
One environmental benefit of cycling that you may not have considered is that growth in the numbers of people regularly cycling will create a greater need for green, traffic-free spaces.
The increased capacity for carbon dioxide intake created by the growth of trees and plants has a super positive effect on air quality, and having more green spaces outdoors is also great for our mental and physical health.
#4. Increased Biodiversity
Reducing noise pollution, air pollution, and emissions has another consequence: increased biodiversity.
High levels of biodiversity are essential for a healthy ecosystem. Embracing the sustainable practice of cycling can help protect this crucial aspect of our environment.
The Key To A Healthier, Happier Life
It should now be pretty clear how cycling improves health and promotes sustainability.
Not only does riding a bike boost your physical health by helping you build muscle strength, increase cardiovascular fitness, and improve your posture and flexibility, but it also aids your mental health by reducing stress and anxiety and encouraging a calm, mindful attitude.
And that’s not all.
Alongside these amazing health benefits, cycling is also one of the most eco-friendly modes of transport, exercise, and activity.
Take advantage of the benefits of cycling and you’ll not just be helping yourself, you’ll also be cultivating a more sustainable relationship with the world around you.