Even though there are not so many scientific studies performed regarding the direct relationship between cycling and heart health, there is evidence that cycling can have a huge benefit when it comes to the overall health and especially the wellbeing and health of the human heart.
Now that spring is officially here, and the weather is nice again, it is a great time to consider hopping on your bicycle and going on a ride instead of walking, driving or taking public transportation.
Riding a bike provide an excellent low impact but intensive cardio exercise which will help you burn calories, lose weight and become fitter and stronger. This includes strengthening your heart and your entire cardiovascular system as well.
Cycling will allow you to travel further distances and stay active longer than walking or running, and it will put much less stress on your legs, joints, and bones that these high impact activities can cause. Plus, you can get to your destination, such as your workplace, school, store or other – much faster than by walking and even by driving.
The best part about cycling is that it is fun too. You can ride your bicycle not only to commute to your workplace or run errands but also for fun, taking trips and as a sport as well.
If you feel like you are out of shape, and are not too confident about your fitness level and your ability to cycle, you can always choose to ride an electric bike instead. Pedelecs do require pedal assistance, so you will be still be exercising and burning calories, and yet you can always rely on the battery-powered motor, especially when you feel like you are pushing your limits, or facing a serious uphill climb on your route.
You can control the amount and intensity of your cycling depending on your health and fitness goals
When it comes to riding a bicycle, you can always choose just how far you want to go, which route to take, and how often you want to ride. All this depends on your personal goals, your fitness level, and health as well as your preferences. You can ride your bicycle just for a few miles on a flat and easy route, or you can challenge yourself with a longer route or a difficult terrain too.
How can cycling actually help improve the health of your heart?
According to the World Health Organization, ischemic disease along with stroke have been the leading causes of death around the world ever since 2016.
The US Government has recommended that everybody gets at least 2.5 hours of moderate or at least 1.5 hours of vigorous aerobic exercise per week in order to reduce the risk of developing one of the most common and deadly diseases including heart disease, diabetes type II, stroke, cancer, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and depression.
By riding a bicycle instead of engaging in lower intensity activities such as walking or no activity at all, you can easily get the minimum recommended amount of aerobic exercise pretty quickly.
Cycling happens to be one of the best cardio workouts of all because it helps strengthen and tone the legs but without putting too much stress on the joints and bones, and it also provides an excellent workout for the heart and helps strengthen it too.
With cycling, you can choose your pace and intensity, and you can choose whether you want to ride a bicycle outside or cycle indoors, which is another benefit of this particular physical activity.
The scientific evidence for the correlation between cycling and heart health
In 2016, a study published in the Circulation journal reported that people who rode bicycles on a regular basis are 15% less likely to have heart attacks than non-cyclists. The study revealed that just 30 minutes of cycling per day reduced the risk of heart attack and heart disease.
Another study found that people who commuted to work or school via cycling are less prone to developing heart disease than those who chose to drive or use public transport for their commuting. The commuters who regularly rode bicycles to work were found to have a lower risk of suffering from high blood pressure, high bad cholesterol levels and prediabetes conditions all of which are directly correlated to cardiovascular problems and heart disease.
Commuting via cycling was also found to reduce stress levels, as commuters are able to avoid traffic jams, as well as receive an influx of endorphins and adrenaline which are hormones associated with happiness and stress reduction. This too helps lower the risk of developing often-fatal cardiovascular diseases and conditions.
How to choose the proper gear for cycling
In order to get the maximum health benefits of riding a bicycle, you should invest in the proper gear which fits your body type, your fitness level and the routes you are planning on taking.
You can ask friends or rent a few bicycles to try them out before committing to buy one, just to make sure that you are making the right choice.
When you decide to purchase a bicycle, you should take advantage of the bike-fitting services which most bike shops offer. This will ensure that you get a bicycle which fits your body height and weight as well as your age, physical ability, and purpose perfectly.
Hybrid bikes are an excellent option if you are planning to ride on different terrains. These all-purpose bicycles can cost you just a few hundred dollars, but of course, you can opt for a more expensive high-end model too.
People with health conditions or elderly riders should opt for comfort bikes which put much less physical stress on the body. Comfort bikes usually have higher rise handlebars, wider tires and shock absorbing seats as well as low tubes which make riding and mounting the bike much easier.
If you have an injury, a health condition or you are at an age where you find cycling too challenging, you can opt for an e-bike too. An electric bike will allow you to reach further, go uphill, carry cargo and get from one point to another without so much effort because you always have the motor to rely on.
Other bikes you can choose from including recumbent bikes, tricycles and many more.
Road bikes are the perfect choice for beginners because they are easy and safe to ride on flat and smooth roads and pavements.
There are also cyclo-cross bikes for those of you who feel adventurous and want to do some off-road riding.
As for the travelers, a touring bike is a perfect solution if you are planning on taking long trips with your new bicycle.
There are also specialized bikes for cross-country, for mountain riding, for triathlons as well as for BMX sports as well.
Last but not least, you can opt for an indoor stationary bike if you want to get the cardio exercise you need to stay fit and strengthen your heart in the comfort and privacy of your own home.
You can also join a local spinning class or go to a gym where there are higher-end exercise bikes which offer different resistance level options and other additional extras to add to your workout sessions.
Overall, whichever type of cycling you choose, always listen to your body and only increase the intensity of your cycling when you feel physically ready for it. Also, if you are elderly or have an underlying medical condition, remember to talk to your doctor first before hopping on a bike, because the ultimate goal is to improve the health of your heart and body rather than worsen it!