May is National Bike Month!
Need a reason to ride a bike? Ask any kid and they’ll say — it’s fun! Fun is definitely important, but believe it or not, the simple act of riding a bike can be revolutionary! As the League of American Bicyclists puts it: when you make a habit of biking, you are part of a movement for “safer streets, connected communities, a healthier planet, and happier people.”
As we celebrate National Bike Month, we encourage you to make an effort to not only exercise more, but pull out your bike and hop on.
Science-Based Health Benefits of Cycling
Riding a Bike Will Strengthen Your Muscles
Cycling is a perfect activity for all levels, because it is low-impact and you can vary the amount and intensity as necessary. Need to start slow? No problem. But you can also dial up the speed, difficulty, and duration to get an intense fat-burning, muscle-building workout in.
Biking regularly will improve your core strength. Strengthening your back and abdominal muscles will result in improved balance, coordination, and posture. And if you want to work on your legs? From your glutes to your calves, biking’s definitely got you covered.
Riding a Bike Can Heal Your Heart
Aerobic exercise strengthens your circulatory system and reduces your risk for cardiovascular diseases like strokes, heart attacks, and high blood pressure. The Copenhagen City Heart Study followed participants for 18 years and determined that regular cycling of moderate to high intensity protected people from heart disease.
But did you know cycling can actually reverse heart damage that occurs due to aging? Older adults who lead sedentary lifestyles can experience stiffening of the heart muscle, which reduces its capacity to pump blood and can lead to heart failure. But, for those under age 65, regularly biking 4-5 times a week can reverse this damage.
Riding a Bike Will Improve Your Mood
Ever heard of a “runner’s high” — the sense of bliss athletes get after completing a long run? There’s also a cyclist’s high, and it can start the moment you start pedaling a bike. Serotonin, the “happy hormone”, is released immediately, and levels stay up even after a ride. You’ll also feel better due to endorphins that are released. This can ward off feelings of depression, anxiety, and general stress.
If you can get outside to ride (as opposed to a stationary indoor bike), all the better. The combination of exercise and being outdoors has proven to be especially beneficial for improving mental health.
Riding a Bike Will Bolster Your Brain
The physical benefits of cycling are well known, but we are increasingly learning more about how it helps the brain, and not only in the area of mental health. During exercise like cycling, increased blood flow to the brain delivers more oxygen and nutrients that actually help your brain communicate more efficiently and build new brain cells faster. You’ll literally get a better performing brain: a boost in memory, concentration, problem-solving, and creative thinking.
Additionally, evidence is mounting that cycling can help with neurological disorders. It has been routinely studied as a way to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease and even lower the risk of developing it at all. Cycling can potentially help manage symptoms of ADHD as well.
Get Up and Get Moving… But Remember to Stay Safe!
Here at In and Out Express Care, we sponsor a group of elite triathletes in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. Triathletes compete in the areas of swimming, running, and yes — cycling. So we are excited to celebrate National Bike Month as we continue to cheer on and support our athletes.
You may not be an elite athlete, but we’re here to support you as well — whether you live an active lifestyle, have a busy family on-the-go, or are just trying to motivate yourself to get off your couch.
When cycling, always remember to put on your helmet, wear bright colors to increase your visibility, make sure your bike is in good condition, and follow the rules of the road. If you or your family members get hurt or injured, we have four convenient urgent care clinics in Hampton Roads. So, no excuses. Get up and get riding! We’ve got your back!