Weight Loss, Muscle Building and Other Health Benefits of Cycling

For the longest time, the only option we’ve had when it comes to staying fit is working out at home. And with the opening up of the lockdown in most parts of the world, many of us are finally looking to return to the gym. However, while the lockdown may be lifted, COVID-19 is still spreading and you may want to consider safer activities like running or even cycling. Cycling is a fun and low-impact form of exercise, which has various health benefits. In fact, a new study, presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), states that cycling can reduce the risk of death in diabetic people as well.

Cycling can reduce the mortality rate in diabetic people

The aforementioned study, published in the journal Diabetologia, included two questionnaires, which were given to the diabetes patients 5 years apart. The results of the study showed that people who did not cycle before the first questionnaire but started cycling later showed a 35% reduction in mortality rate. However, people who reported cycling in both questionnaires had 44% lower mortality rates than those who did not cycle at all.

The results showed that amongst the people who cycled, the ones who cycled for 1 to 59 minutes a week showed 25% less mortality risk and the ones who cycled for 60 to 149 minutes per week showed 24% less mortality rate. However, people who cycled for around 150 to 300 minutes a week showed 31% less mortality rate.

The study concluded that cycling reduces the risk of death caused by cardiovascular disease and even other complications.

There are several other benefits of cycling, some of which are mentioned below:

  1. Cycling can help in maintaining weight

Cycling helps in increasing your metabolic rate and, therefore, accelerates the process of burning fat and building muscle in the body. Research evidence suggests that you should be able to burn 2,000 calories by exercising for a week. However, cycling for an hour can help burn about 300 calories, which means you can burn more calories in a lesser time. Along with cycling, you must have a healthy diet plan to lose weight.

  1. Cycling puts less pressure on the joints

Unlike other activities like running and walking, cycling is easy on the joints as when you sit on the bike, most of your weight goes to a pair of bones called the ischial tuberosities, which are present in the pelvis. This means cycling can be done by people with pain or age-related stiffness in the joints.

  1. Cycling improves your mood

Cycling is a form of aerobic exercise that triggers the release of happy hormones such as endorphins, which can improve your mood. Cycling in an outdoor location, especially hilly regions, magnifies the benefits of cycling and helps in reducing stress and anxiety.

  1. Cycling can help in building muscles

When you pedal downstroke, you engage the gluteus muscles present in the buttocks, the quadriceps present in the thighs and the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles present in the calves. During backstroke or upstroke, you engage hamstrings present in the back of the thighs and the flexor muscles present in the front of the hips. Therefore, cycling strengthens and tones almost all of the muscles in your legs. While cycling, the muscles of your abdomen, arms and shoulders are also engaged.