As the holidays wind down (except for you Canadians, Happy Boxing Day!), this time of the year always seems to leave us with a room full of wrapping paper, a fridge full of leftovers, and a few extra pounds that started hanging around right after Thanksgiving.
It’s right around now that we start to think of our New Years Resolutions, and many of us try to find ways to get a little healthier. Some of us sign up for gym memberships, and some try to adjust our diets. Portland Pedal Power has a suggestion which is easy on both your checkbook and your calendar.
I wrote on Tuesday about taking up cycling instead of driving because of its convenience, but I didn’t even mention one of the most obvious perk behind bicycling: the health benefits! So without further ado, here are several reasons you may want to use cycling as exercise for your New Years Resolution:
Cycling is good for your muscles: If you’ve been on a bike for more than a few minutes, you should be familiar with a burning sensation in your legs. This is, of course, a good thing. Cycling is great for improving the muscles in your thighs, calves, and rear.
Cycling can help with joint conditions: Because cycling is considered a low-impact form of exercise, it can be especially beneficial for those who can’t take part in other higher impact exercises (jogging for example).
Cycling increases lifespan: Cycling has been linked to improving cardiovascular health, and drastically decreases your risk of heart disease. According to the British Medical Association, cycling just 20 miles a week can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 50%. Discovery Magazine even writes cycling can improve your immune system, and has even shown evidence of fighting cancer. Even when adjusted for risk of injury, cycling has associate with increasing “life-years.”
Cycling improves the waistline: On an average ride, a cyclist will burn approximately 300 calories per hour. An average person will burn approximately 11 pounds of unhealthy fat per year, while building muscle mass and increasing your metabolic rate.
Cycling improves mental health: While the physical health benefits are usually very apparent, few consider the mental benefits behind riding a bike. Bicycling has been proven to reduce stress and increase hand-eye coordination among those who choose to cycle a mere 30 minutes a day. The Journal of Occupational Health published an article showing cycling significantly improved mental health among those who choose to commute daily to work.
Some of these benefits may seem obvious, but it’s important to remember you can only take advantage of them if you choose to climb on the bike. The most important thing to remember is that this is an enjoyable experience! Get out and explore some of the fantastic bike trails Portland has to offer!