Cycling to and from work could cut the risk of cancer and heart disease by 50%, according to new research published in the British Medical Journal.
The study of 250,000 UK commuters took place over five years and found that there are many health benefits to cycling to work instead of driving or using public transport. The Glasgow based researchers behind these findings compared people who had an active commute with those whose journey to work was mostly stationary. Over the course of the study, 2,430 of the participants died, 3,748 were diagnosed with cancer and 1,110 experienced heart conditions. The results suggested that regular cycling cut the risk of cancer by 45% and heart disease by 46%. The further the commuters cycled, the greater the health benefits were found to be.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Cycling?
This is clear evidence of the health benefits of cycling to and from work. Since this journey has to be made every day, many cyclists find that there is much less willpower required to do it than to go for a run or to the gym. With all of this in mind, you might want to consider cutting out your usual, inactive commute and getting on your bike instead.
Better Cardiovascular Health
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the UK. This covers a range of conditions including strokes, high blood pressure and heart attacks. It is essential to take good care of your heart by eating well and exercising regularly.
Cycling reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by stimulating the heart and improving circulation. There are many ways that this activity boosts cardiovascular health; it strengthens heart muscles, lowers resting pulse and reduces the levels of fat in the blood. One Danish study, which observed 30,000 people between the ages of 20 and 93, found cycling to be one of the best forms of exercise to protect against heart disease.
Increased Muscle Strength
The posture and motion required for a bike ride are perfect for strengthening and toning muscles all over the body. The muscles most strongly targeted by cycling are the calves, thighs and glutes. However, the way you hold your body as you ride your bicycle also works the back, arms and neck. This is a great health benefit of cycling which can make a massive improvement to your overall health in the long run. If you take up cycling as a form of commute or as a hobby, you will soon see a difference in your strength and muscle tone.
One of the most obvious health benefits of cycling is that it is a hugely effective way to lose or control your weight. Whether you’re trying to shift some excess weight or just want to keep fit and healthy, cycling will be advantageous to you as it raises the metabolic rate and burns body fat.
As mentioned earlier, when you cycle to and from work, it stops feeling like a workout. This makes cycling a comfortable form of exercise and, as it becomes a part of your daily routine, you won’t be able to easily put it off like you could do with a trip to the gym. Studies have found that riding a bike for just half an hour every day will burn approximately 5KG of body fat over the course of a year.
Reduced Risk of Cancer
This latest investigation is not the first to link cycling and cancer, many other studies have proven that cyclists have a lower risk of contracting certain types of cancer. Research suggests that taking regular bike rides may reduce the likelihood of bowel cancer.
Reduced Diabetes Risk
Due to a number of lifestyle factors, the amount of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes is rapidly increasing and becoming a serious public health concern. This illness occurs when the body stops producing the right amount of insulin, causing a dangerous spike in blood sugar levels. A lack of physical activity is believed to be a major component in the alarming nationwide increase of Type 2 diabetes. The reduced risk of diabetes is a major health benefit of cycling. Research has proven that cycling for 30 minutes each day can lower the chances of contracting this life-threatening condition by 40%.
Help With Mental Health
In addition to all of the incredible ways it can boost your physical well-being, there are also many mental health benefits to cycling. Conditions such as stress, depression and anxiety can be managed by regular bike riding. This is due to both the exercise involved and the enjoyment of the journey. Any form of exercise triggers the release of endorphins, the ‘feel good hormone’ which is essential for alleviating stress and low moods, so something as active as cycling is a great choice. Although it is not a cure for mental health problems, cycling can help you to relax and deal with stressful situations.
Start Cycling And Reap The Benefits
Getting on a bike is a simple, effective way to get active and healthy. If you’d like to reap the health benefits of cycling yourself, you’ll find that riding your bike to work is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to fit this form of exercise into your daily routine. If you’re a beginner, this NHS guide can give you some useful tips on getting started safely.