Alone or in the company, in the countryside or the city, cycling is good for both body and mind.
The season is perfect, the desire to move after weeks of quarantine is great, the environment thanks: there are many reasons to get on the bicycle these days. Alone or in the company, in the countryside or the city, cycling is good, very good, and numerous studies confirm this. If everyday life allows it, using the bike as a means of locomotion is ideal. But if the daily commitments do not allow it, a ride in your free time (or, why not, a nice cycling holiday ) will be enough to do body and mind good. Here are the benefits of cycling.
The benefits of cycling
From a physical point of view, doing physical activity on the pedals has enormous benefits first of all for the heart, reports the NHS. The heart muscle is trained, it becomes stronger, resistant: pedaling regularly can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, problems related to blood pressure. Furthermore, according to the British health authority, the occurrence of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes decreases. Cycling helps venous and lymphatic circulation, adds the magazine of the Veronesi Foundation, and does not overload the joints., which is why cycling is also ideal for the elderly or people with joint problems. Naturally, to these aspects, we must add the toning of the muscles, the burning of calories, the increase of resistance typical of every sport.
But to these physical aspects, we must also add many mental ones, which are by no means to be underestimated when it comes to well-being. John Ratey, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of studies related to exercise and psychological well-being, told The Independent that several of his patients with severe depressive disorders recovered after entering cycling. among their daily habits. Moreover, Ratey continues, such a rhythmic activity induces a state of peace and calm in the mind (it also happens with other repetitive and methodical hobbies, such as knitting, or coloring ). This is confirmed by Charles Graham-Dixon, a journalist for the Guardian who tells about his personal experience with panic attacks and anxiety disorders, left behind thanks to the bicycle.
According to the Penn State University magazine, biking not only brings the classic benefits of physical activity in general (notoriously a good mood booster), but it ‘enriches’ all the positive aspects of outdoor sports. Not to mention that the sun, the air, the open-air landscapes are certainly more pleasant than the artificial lights of a gym. But not only that: cycling is an activity that can be practiced in the company, and socializing can be an extra stimulus for many people. Finally, let’s not underestimate the psychological aspect of exercising without perceiving it as a burden, fatigue: when you move in your free time, you do it more lightly.
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Ecology and safety
There are many studies on the benefits of cycling, both from a physical and mental point of view. But there are also very valid reasons that concern the community, and the ecosystem. Two wheels (with pedals) are an ecological means of locomotion and if everyone, especially in big cities, used them, we could drastically reduce air pollution. To give an example, the University of Montana has calculated that if everyone who works less than 8 kilometers away (the average American distance from their workplace) from home used the bike instead of the car to go there, the harmful emissions would be reduced by 5 million tons per year.
However, to ride in the city or on roads where the speed of cars can be sustained, it is also necessary to take into account a significant factor: safety. The fear of accidents is often a deterrent (and a component of stress for cyclists), and although it is the institutions responsible for having to find solutions – creating cycle paths, first of all – it is also true that the individual cyclist must make sure to protect yourself as much as possible. By always adopting behavior that is always respectful of road safety regulations, first of all, informing yourself about local regulations (did you know that in many countries including Italy it is forbidden to ride a bicycle in the city with headphones?). And by equipping itself with accessories designed for protection, such as helmets, stop lights, and luminous lights, and reflective clothing.