Changing your lifestyle
As well as being a quick and easy way of getting from A to B, cycling offers lots of health-related benefits.
Cycling is a great way to stay fit and healthy, whatever your age. Cycling will help prevent a wide range of illnesses and help you feel better and happier too - all good reasons to get on your bike!
Everyday cycling - where the exercise leaves you breathing heavily, but not out of breath - is the type of exercise that's most effective in promoting good health.
Cycling will help with weight management
Cycling burns around 300 calories per hour - the equivalent of a large chocolate bar or a couple of cans of fizzy drink. For an adult, a 15-minute bike ride to and from work five times a week burns off the equivalent of 11 pounds of fat in a year. Keeping fit and using the energy in your body is good for you, whatever your age.
- To ensure your cycling exertions don't go to waste, make sure you eat a healthy diet
- Eating before a ride is advisable, but try to do so at least two hours before setting off - and avoid fatty food
- Remember to eat 10-15 minutes after your ride as well, as this will restore energy to your tired muscles where it is needed the most - and may help prevent soreness later on
- Longer rides should be followed by a high-carbohydrate meal in the evening to replace the calories burned during the day
- There are also several ranges of specially formulated energy bars and sports drinks on the market designed to be consumed when exercising
- Isotonic sports drinks replace salt lost during perspiration, as well as carbohydrates
- Carrying a supply of water is also important for staying hydrated. You can fit a bottle and cage to your frame
Cycling can improve your mood
Exercise releases endorphins, which make you feel happier, leading to reduced levels of depression and stress, improved mood and higher self-esteem.
Cycling can help to maintain strength and coordination
Cycling improves leg strength, which in turn increases mobility and helps to prevent injury through falls. By improving strength and coordination, avoiding broken bones and fall-related injuries, cycling can delay the ageing process and reduce rates of injury in older people.
How cycling improves fitness:
A study carried out for the Department for Transport found that 'even a small amount of cycling can lead to significant gains in fitness'. According to the Department for Transport study, people who do not exercise, but who start cycling, move from the third of the population who are the least fit, to the fittest half of the population in just a few months. Cycling also encourages children to develop a fitness habit for life.
Who can cycle?
There are no real age barriers to cycling, which is why it's a great activity for all the family to do together.