Looking for an easy, convenient way to stay in shape? Want to enjoy 99th-percentile health and actually have so much fun you won't even realize you're exercising? Simply give cycling a try. For happiness and health few exercise regimes begin to compare.
We're lifelong bicyclists and have experienced ourselves, and seen firsthand, just how much cycling on a regular basis improves your overall well-being. Whether your goal is having more fun, stress reduction, staying in shape, weight loss, lowering your cholesterol or blood pressure or almost anything else, pedaling is all it takes.
To encourage you to give it a try, here are just some of the many reasons bicycling could become your fountain of youth.
|Cycling Fitness Facts
The Most Convenient Exercise
Few fitness options are more convenient than cycling. Once you've got a bicycle, your exercise starts the minute you leave your house. With most other sports, if you have an hour and a half to work out, you spend 40 (or more) minutes driving to and from the gym, field, slope or pool, limiting your workout to 50 minutes.
With a bicycle, you can hop on, ride for 90 minutes and enjoy a much better workout. Once you leave the house, your workout begins and you determine how long it lasts. And, you don't need to wait for an instructor or a class to begin either, so it's much easier to fit cycling into your schedule.
Own Your Own Fitness Machine
Pay for a gym membership and at the end of the year you have nothing. Buy a bicycle and at the end of the year you have a tangible object ready to keep you fit. Plus, you can ride just for fun or transportation too. And, you can think of buying a bicycle like a fitness mortgage: you pay about the same as you did for your club fees, but at the end of your payments you own something that keeps working for you.
Also, you can finance a new bike purchase and pay about $50 a month (for a $600 bike). That's just about what you'd pay for a gym membership. Unlike a membership, though, you'll own your two-wheeled fitness machine and be able to use it whenever, wherever and however you like.
Enjoy The Outdoors
Cycling also happens to be a lot more enjoyable than working out in a gym. You get to enjoy the open air, sun on your face, and wind in your hair, plus the sights and sounds of the great outdoors. You'll probably want to get outside when it's sunny and nice anyway, and cycling allows you to get some quality exercise and have more fun at the same time.
There's no other sport that lets you see as much scenery while exercising as cycling, because you ride at the perfect pace to enjoy the view. Drive at 60mph and things fly by too fast to appreciate. Walk at 3mph, or run at 10, and you won't go far enough to see much.
But ride at 10 to 20mph and you'll see the world as never before. An hour ride can easily carry you 20 miles. You can ride in and out of big cities and explore different neighborhoods or head for nature and see ecosystems change as you ride!
And, remember when families used to drive across the country every summer? Well, you can do that on your bike too, and feel a lot better than you would if you were cooped up in a car for 8 hours a day. Or maybe you'll never leave a 100-mile radius from your home, but you'll have a much greater appreciation for your surroundings when your ride.
The easy speed of cycling is what makes it so much fun. Sailing along at 15mph on a nimble-handling, lightweight bike, feeling the cooling breezes, carving corners and zipping down hills — cycling is the closest thing you can experience to flying without wings. Accomplished riders can regularly hit speeds of 30mph on flat road rides and over 45mph on descents!
These motorcycle-like speeds are thrilling, and unlike motorcycling, you don't have to maneuver a heavy bike around or deal with additional clothing and the ever-present smell of gasoline. Also, because you, and not a motor, are responsible for these speeds, you'll enjoy an endorphin rush that you could never get driving. It's comparable to that of skiing or snowboarding except that you don't need to go to a resort and buy a lift pass to get to the start of your run. Your fun starts out your door — it's exhilarating!
Shape Your Body
Want to stay slim and trim like you were in high school, but not get too skinny? Cycling offers the perfect balance of aerobic and muscular work. Pedaling away the miles will ensure you have exquisitely formed quads, calves and gluts. (Warning: your new levels of bootyliciousness may attract the opposite sex.)
Plus the hours you spend holding your handlebars provide isometric exercise that will tone your upper body. The muscular exertion you make burns calories to the tune of 400 to 800 calories an hour (see table above) so regular cycling is sure to trim your waistline, too.
Cycling is also the best choice for people who are rehabbing from injuries — especially knee injuries. Cycling is low-impact and easy on the joints. That's why doctors regularly recommend riding as a replacement for running and skiing. We recommend it whether you're recovering from an injury or just wanting to get back in shape or have more fun.
|More Speed Is More Fun
Average pace of different exercises over one hour
Pick Your Pace
Perhaps the best reason to choose cycling as your exercise is for its variety of intensity levels. For most people there's no such thing as an easy pace in running, swimming or cross-country skiing. But in cycling, thanks to the mechanical advantage of the drivetrain and wheels, you can ride as easily or as hard as you like.
Don't believe us? Try to run or swim at a heart rate of 100 beats a minute. It's nearly impossible. Now try to ride at 100 beats a minute. No problem. Because it's easier to ride at a low intensity, there is also more variety of levels in between very easy and very hard intensity. That variety makes cycling more suited to a wider array of athletes and allows every rider more pacing choices while riding.
Cycling Is Social
The ability to bike at an easy pace means you can ride and talk. And, one of the most fun things to do is to ride with friends so you can enjoy each other's company while you exercise.
Here's a fun test to try: Pick out a route that travels 10 miles from your house in one direction. Head out with a friend. We're guessing that you'll cover the whole distance and come back without realizing how far you've ridden. Which goes to show how easy it is to actually have fun while you get great exercise on your bicycles. We're happy to help you find the best roads and paths for riding with friends too.
Exercise As Transport
Multitaskers rejoice! Like accomplishing your grocery shopping and gym workout at the same time, cycling lets you do two very important things at once. Just substitute cycling for your regular car ride to work or to the grocery store, maybe pick up the pace a bit on the way there or back, and you've snuck in a workout in the time you'd normally spend stuck in traffic.
And, the best part is that your ride to work or to the store won't take much longer than driving. (It will probably take less time than taking the bus.) That's because traffic regularly reduces car speeds in most urban areas to a 20 to 30mph average. We're confident that you can average 15mph on the right bike. So, stop throwing money away on gas and the gym, put it toward a bicycle and you'll soon be saving big and enjoying yourself more!
The Green Sport
Every day we realize how much more our planet is in peril. And, one of the best aspects of cycling is that it's among the greenest of activities. Apart from the energy and materials needed to construct bicycles, which are minimal compared to many other sports, and forms of transportation, cycling has virtually zero negative impact on the environment.
And, unlike so many other sports, it doesn't require power for lights or maintenance of a building, it doesn't require gasoline, and it doesn't require a massive park to serve as its grounds. And, cycling certainly doesn't tear up the environment, nor is that required to make new places to ride.
Cycling efficiently and elegantly uses the endless roads and trails that already exist, old and new. When you take up cycling, you can be proud that your choice for exercise is in tune with nature, and is silent, peaceful and healthy for you and the planet.
And, if you live for excitement and can't help but push your limits, cycling's more intense niches, like racing, off-roading and jumping are for you because they require razor-sharp attention, advanced riding skills, and expert coordination. Give these a try and the days of being bored silly at the golf course or baseball diamond are gone. But, no worries if competition and thrills aren't your thing. As we've pointed out, cycling is nothing if not diverse. This is just another of its options.
We hope you've enjoyed this look at why cycling is so great. Give it a try and you'll find out right away how it makes exercising fun and enjoyable. And, after just a ride or two you'll probably come up with a few reasons of your own why cycling is the most fun, convenient way to stay fit. If you need places to ride, friends to ride with, a new bicycle, or repairs to get an old one back on the road, we're here to help.