Published on October 28th, 2013 | by Joe Starks0
Exercise Spotlight: Cycling
Most of us will, at some time in our lives, ride a bicycle. Usually seen as a children’s game or a highly competitive sport, sadly not enough average adults take up cycling anymore. This is a great loss, because in our current obesity epidemic an exercise like cycling could be the answer for many who do not like exertion too much. Cycling does pretty much everything a good jog would do for you, without some of the negatives like high impact. It can be compared to swimming when it comes to how good it is for the joints and overall health of the athlete. So, let’s learn a bit more about this fine sport.
A brief history of cycling
It was a German baron named Carl von Drais, who first invented the predecessor of the bicycle. He combined two cart wheels with a plank and used a typical steering contraption in the front. This device was called the velocipede. It worked with the rider pushing the ground with his feet and the velocipede too speed and ran. It was a little bit like the Flintstones variety of a bicycle if you want to look at it like that, because there simply were not pedals.
The pedals came later, when the Minaux French Company decided to turn the velocipede into a true sports device instead of just a weird fad for the rich. By adding pedals the velocipede became the bicycle and it was faster and more pleasant to ride than ever. In the 1870s the popularity of the bicycle had risen so much that it was now used by many to ride to work with. With only a few addition over the years we now have the modern bicycle that has become such an integral part of our culture.
Benefits of cycling
Cycling is extremely beneficial for your health and it has many uses. You can have a stationary bike at home or in the gym. You can also use your bicycle as a means of transportation. Here is a comprehensive list of some of the greatest benefits of bicycle riding:
- Great aerobic exercise. An hour of cycling can burn 350-650 calories, depending on the intensity and your body weight. The exercise is purely aerobic, so you avoid cramps and injuries better than if you did something anaerobic. It is also quite easy to do.
- Low impact. Compared to other typical aerobic exercises, cycling is extremely low impact. Your joints barely get affected and the worst you can feel is perhaps a little soreness in the bottom area after a powerful session. To avoid this soreness take a break every 20 minutes of cycling to let some blood circulate back into your behind.
- All ages included. You can cycle as long as you live if your health allows you to. Cycling is great for very young children up to the very old. The benefits are always great.
- Mental health improvement. People who cycle a lot have a better mood overall, thanks to the pleasant exercise. Exercise in general wards off minor depression quite successfully. So if you suffer from mildly low moods you should seriously consider cycling to work instead of driving.
Downsides of cycling
As with all exercises there are some points you should beware of when starting to cycle. There are very few minuses when it comes to cycling, but they are all noteworthy:
- Cycling on streets can be hazardous for your health. You inhale exhaust gas from the cars and you are in danger of getting hit. It is best to cycle on special bicycle paths or in parks to stay healthy.
- Cycling and any kind of drug or alcohol abuse do NOT mix. Never use a bicycle while intoxicated and that goes even for a single beer. Don’t cycle outdoors if you feel under the weather either.
- If you cycle extensively and don’t exercise your back you might get serious back problems over the year. Cycle in moderation, not more than 2 hours a day or get a personal trainer to help you balance out your training so you don’t get back injuries.
As you can see, cycling is a great sport that simply needs a little bit of responsibility and care. You can reap amazing benefits from it if you are certain that you’re not getting yourself into any trouble. You can always opt for the safe option of having a stationary bicycle at home, but beware that stationary bicycles burn less calories on the default setting than a ride in the city would.