With the need for social distancing still going strong, outdoor cycling is a great way to get moving while most gyms remain shut. An excellent cardiovascular exercise, consistent cycling is proven to improve heart health, immunity and general wellness. “Outdoor cycling is great for anyone who wants to build their aerobic capacity, and improve the all-round fitness endurance. It is very functional in nature and has a multitude of health benefits, other than being environment friendly, which helps improve the overall ecosystem,” says Rishabh Telang, fitness expert, cure.fit.
All the benefits of outdoor cycling right now
1) It is a low impact exercise
“Cycling is a low impact exercise as the bike carries your weight. This makes it easier on your skeletal system and joints and makes it more possible for people from different age groups to follow an exercise form. Being a low impact exercise means that it is easier to build consistency in exercise and the intensity can be managed by how fast or slow you go,” says Telang.
2) It amps up your metabolism
Being a cardiovascular exercise, cycling builds muscle and burns calories in the process. “With cycling, you can make exercise a part of your lifestyle. This has been proven to burn more calories in the long run,” says Mumbai-based fitness coach Bhavna Harchandrai.
3) It improves your leg strength and your core
“Cycling is an overall cardio workout but it strengthens the leg muscles, mainly quadriceps in the front of the thighs,” says Harchandrai. It targets your hamstrings, glutes, quads and calves. “Cycling for long distances builds endurance. While it improves joint mobility, you need to engage your lower and upper body and stabilize your core and keep it active while cycling to keep your body upright. So it makes your back and abdominals stronger, and increases stability and coordination,” says Telang.
4) It improves heart health
While cycling, you can maximise the ability of the body to be able to do more work in less time. “Consistent practice can make you more efficient. Cycle at a speed which is sustainable and challenging for an hour or so and it will help in strengthening the entire cardiovascular system consistently,” says Telang. Cycling strengthens your heart muscles, lowers resting pulse and reduces blood fat levels. Lung function is improved too.
5) It’s great for your mental health
“Your body releases happy hormones as you pump more oxygen in your body and this makes you happy,” says Firoza Suresh, the bicycle mayor of Mumbai. “Cycling decreases stress levels as being outdoors positively affects your mind,” adds Telang. This can help you clear your mind and productively deal with stress and anxiety.
The safety measures to keep in mind while cycling
We asked Suresh to give us the low-down on staying safe as you exercise.
- For recreational fitness, it’s ideal to cycle in the morning and evening when there is less sunlight and traffic.
- Wear comfortable bright clothes, a helmet and never wear black as you won’t be visible. Shorts are ideal as flaps of loose pants can interfere with gears.
- Wear gloves to reduce the pressure on your hands and wrists.
- For early morning rides, you need lights and a reflector jacket. If you ride at night, taillights are a must.
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