10 great reasons to cycle
There are a lots of ways cycling is good for you and your heart. From feeling younger to saving money, here are 10 of the many benefits which cycling can bring.
1. It’s good for you
Cycling is a good way to improve your fitness and heart health. Two short trips to the shops and back each day – about 30 minutes’ of daily cycling – will begin to benefit your cardiovascular system.
2. Discover your surroundings
The National Cycle Network now covers 14,700 miles across the UK. The system of safe, traffic-free lanes and quiet, on- road routes connects every major city and passes within a mile of 55 per cent of UK homes, making it a great way to explore your locality or further afield.
The website of Sustrans (a charity promoting sustainable transport) includes a map of the cycle network and inspiration for journeys in the countryside, urban routes, family trips, long-distance rides and even art trails. Simply enter your postcode into the online map to find a route near you.
3. Feel young again
Getting on a bike can make you feel young again, as you speed along with the wind in your hair. Cycling releases invigorating bursts of endorphins, our feel-good neurotransmitters.
Cycling can be a sociable activity, too. There are groups throughout the UK for cyclists of all abilities. Cycling UK caters for all skill levels, so if you’re new to cycling, this is a good place to start. Visit the Cycling UK website or call 01483 238301. British Cycling has more than 1,400 affiliated clubs – find one at the British Cycling website or ask your local bike shop about cycling clubs. At Darlington Cycling Club, many members with heart conditions ride together. Read their story.
4. It’s suitable for all fitness levels
The health benefits of cycling rather than driving every day are many times greater than any risk of injury
It doesn't matter what shape you’re in, you can go at your own pace. The bike saddle holds 70 per cent of your body weight, so pressure on your joints is very low, too. If you’re new to cycling, recovering from an injury, or put off because you live in a hilly area, an electric bike may be an option.
5. Cycling saves you money
Apart from the initial cost of the bike (and there are plenty of inexpensive options, plus you may be able to pay gradually and tax-free through the Cycle to Work scheme) and its minimal running costs, cycling is free. Plus, you’re getting fit while going from A to B, saving money you may have spent on a gym membership, as well as cutting travel costs.
6. Benefits outweigh the risks
Don’t be put off by the fear of road accidents, even if you want to be a rush hour commuter. Dr Stephen Watkins, co-chair of the Transport and Health Study Group (an independent society of public health practitioners and researchers), says: “The risks of cycling are low. The health benefits of cycling rather than driving every day are many times greater than any risk of injury.”
A cycling proficiency course, available for all skill levels, could boost your confidence. Learn about hazards, signalling and more. Find courses at Bikeability.
7. Raise money for a great cause
There are sponsored bike rides for cyclists of all levels, so you can combine fundraising for great causes with getting fit, being part of a group challenge and a great day out. Big BHF rides this year include the London to Brighton Bike Ride in June. In 2016, 15,000 participants took part.
8. Cycling makes you stronger
Almost every muscle is used while cycling
Almost every muscle is used while cycling. Leg muscles are worked the most – for pedalling – but abdomen and back muscles stabilise the body, while the shoulder-arm muscular system supports you at the handlebars. Cycling builds strength all over the body, and as your core muscles improve, so does your balance.
9. It’s planet friendly
A study showed cycling produces zero carbon pollution, making it an environmentally sustainable form of transport. A bike can replace your car or the bus, especially for shorter journeys, and more cyclists means fewer congestion-related emissions. Add-ons like trailers and seats mean children can go green too.
10. It’s for everyone
Cycling for those with disabilities is becoming increasingly popular. Tricycles that offer more stable support and hand cycles for wheelchair users or those with severe weakness are available. Many organisations now also provide companions for blind and visually impaired cyclists.