** In this guest post, Mike Jones explains why cycling is a great form of exercise. **
Cardiovascular exercise is an important part of general health and fitness.
And while different types of cardio appeal to different people, cycling has some unique advantages for women when it comes to body composition, mental health, and general health.
It’s important to understand that you can’t out-train a poor diet, but having a solid exercise regimen that includes vigorous cardio can be extremely helpful for your health.
Below, you’ll see three reasons why cycling is an ideal form of cardio for women.
Reason 1 – It’s an Effective Fat Burner
It’s generally known that high-intensity endurance exercise can help you shed excess fat, and anyone who’s watched an elite cycling race can see that elite cyclists tend to be very slender and lightweight. The most successful female cyclists tend to be both leaner and lighter in overall weight than their competitors, but you don’t have to an elite cyclist to experience the fat-loss benefits that this sport can offer.
The fat-shedding benefits of cycling are especially helpful to women, who carry more body fat than men do on average.
Consistency as a cyclist is key if you want to improve your body composition – obviously, going on one or two long rides in a few months won’t do much, but making a point of biking a few times a week will.
In order to make sure you keep up the habit, it’s important to make sure you’re comfortable on the bike. Gel seats for exercise bikes and for regular bikes can help you stay comfortable, and making sure you have adequately padded gloves can help reduce your risk of pain or numbness from gripping the bars on long rides.
Reason 2 – It Supports General Health and Can Help You Live Longer
You’ve likely heard the general belief that exercise keeps you healthier and helps you live longer, but cycling has some specific benefits in this regard.
A study done at King’s College London in the UK studied more than 1,200 sets of identical twins and found that those who cycled three times a week for 45 minutes (or the equivalent of this) were “biologically younger” by nine years. This means that the cycling twins had lower risks of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other issues.
In particular, cycling as a woman can help you reduce your risk of cancer. You don’t have to be a high-level cyclist to do this, either – even moderate training has some excellent health benefits. Multiple studies have shown that cycling helps women particularly reduce their risk of breast cancer, although it appears to reduce risks of virtually all cancers as well.
Many women have heard rumors that cycling is bad for female genital health. However, according to one urogynecologist, having the right bike seat setup can reduce or eliminate discomfort from spending long hours in the saddle. Getting a professional bike fit can be very helpful for this.
Spinning, or riding a stationary bike, also has unique benefits for pregnant women. The main benefit is the fact that there are handlebars to help pregnant women regain a sense of balance. The fact that the bike is stationary eliminates concerns over fall risk as well.
Reason 3 – It Supports Muscle Strength
While cycling won’t give you the same muscle hypertrophy results that strength training will, it has remarkable muscle-strengthening effects, especially in comparison to other forms of cardio.
It isn’t a full-body workout, but cycling can help you build strength in your legs and core in particular. If your cycling route involves a lot of hill climbs, you will have to work your legs even harder, which can in turn make them stronger.
Working against gravity can help you become incredibly strong, and because not all forms of cardio have this element, it gives cycling an advantage.
Cycling may be mostly known for supporting leg strength, but the constant work done to balance the bike can lead to increased core strength over all. While your core isn’t targeted as heavily as the legs, this can be a way to support core strengthening without having to do extra sit-ups or planks.
It’s important to note that muscle growth from cycling primarily happens in those who are relatively untrained. If you are highly trained, you may lose some muscle mass cycling, particularly if you are already lean.
As with all forms of exercise, in order to maintain muscle mass, you should eat enough protein to support your existing muscle mass.
If you have a fair amount of muscle mass but some fat to lose, cycling can help you by speeding up fat loss to reveal the muscle beneath. While cycling can help you add muscle, it’s difficult or impossible for women to become “bulky” from riding alone.
In conclusion, cycling is a superior form of cardiovascular exercise for women because:
- it can help you lose fat and keep it off
- it reduces your risk of cancer and other serious diseases
- it can help you strengthen and possibly even grow muscle.
Moreover, cycling can be either a social or solitary activity, making it ideal for a range of personality types. If you’re a women looking for an enjoyable and rewarding form of cardiovascular exercise, look no further than cycling.