Cycling to good health

The 100th edition of the Tour de France just got over last month, and with it the world got a new winner of the much sought after yellow jersey in the form of Chris Froome. And with all the brouhaha over the doping scandal involving the iconic Lance Armstrong that preceded the tour, there has hardly been a day for the past year when cycling didn’t feature in the daily newspapers. But while all the negative publicity may have hurt the sports a great deal, there is no reason why you should think twice before taking your bike out for a ride. Even if you are not a very big fan of the sports as such, you should cycle just for the fun of it, and more so, for the innumerable health benefits associated with cycling.

In case you are wondering what’s the great deal with pedalling on two wheels and looking like a nincompoop, just read on and you will realize that cycling provides a fun and healthy alternative to the good old jogging and walking, although each of them have do have their own unique benefits. Cycling is beneficial in the sense that it

1. Is good for your heart

There was an age when heart ailments were associated with septuagenarians; but not anymore. It’s never too early to start taking care of your heart. Cycling ensures your cardio-vascular health and can go a long way in preventing strokes. If you are devoted to cycling, you can be certain that your chances of suffering from a coronary heart disease are much slimmer than the average Joe around you.

2. Gives you muscles

If you are one of those people who dream of building Herculean muscles and at the same time, dread the thought of hitting the gym, then rest assured you are a part of the majority. So if you indeed belong to this breed of Homo sapiens, then cycling can be a great way to gain toned muscles, especially in the lower half of your body viz. legs, thighs and hips.

3. Builds stamina

If you get on a bike after a long time, you may feel all rickety may even start gasping for breath after covering just a minuscule distance.   But if you regularly take your bike out for a spin, you can gradually see your stamina building up. After all, the winners of the Grand Tours of cycling didn’t do it in one day. If you are serious about cycling, it will certainly do miracles with your resilience.

4. Helps you stay fit

Calories seems to be a dreaded word these days. Eat a cake, gain this much calorie; grab a burger, gain some calorie more. So if you are a fitness freak who is looking forward to burn those extra calories, or even a not-so-fit individual who is looking to burn some fat, cycling is definitely the thing for you.

5. Acts as stress-buster

Stress has become a part of modern life. Whether you are a student or a professional, there seems to be no way that you can cope with all the stress that the world throws at you. But not anymore! Cycling can help relieve stress in a jiffy. If yoga and meditation seem to be too sedentary for your taste, you can just go pedalling over a hill and watch all the stress vanish into thin air (well, almost).

6. Improves coordination

It includes your hand-to-eye, arm-to-leg and in fact your entire upper-to-lower body coordination. Especially if you are riding in hilly areas or in high traffic zones, you have to be alert all the time and literally on your feet to avoid any mishaps. Needless to say, it has an overall good effect on your body’s coordination mechanism.

7. Has other health benefits

While we have just mentioned the primary health benefits of cycling, there are also many others, though some are still in contention. For instance, cycling has been claimed to have a host of positive effects on your body starting from a healthier respiratory system to a less occurrence of gall bladder stones in women.

8. Is environment friendly

Why should we just restrict ourselves to the health benefits of cycling? After all, it seems to be the most environment friendly mode of transportation out there. Neither are there any harmful emissions and nor is there any noise pollution.  No wonder a lot many universities and colleges are stressing on this mode of travel for the students as an attempt at establishing a green campus.

9. Can be a recreational activity

If you are looking for a weekend gateway, why drive a hundred miles away in your car when you can just take your bike and go explore the neighbourhood. It is funny that you will often come across people who claim to have travelled all around the world, when in reality they need a GPS to locate places in their own city.

10. Leads to less road menace

Whether you are talking about traffic jams or parking hassles, cycling can help you circumnavigate all problems. Even accidents due to cycling are rare and at least, less lethal than those due to its faster and larger cousin: the motorcycle.

So these were, in a gist, the major benefits of cycling. But as always, there is another side to the coin as well and cycling does have some ill-effects on people’s health, especially men. But since the pros of cycling far outweigh its cons, you can safely take up this activity and watch a fitter version of you emerge from under all the flab with the passage of time.

Surojit Chakraborty

Writer, HR, Bibliophile, Polyglot, Optimist

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