Cycling is an excellent exercise. It can be done as an everyday activity, easily incorporated into the daily routine, and used as a fashion of transportation and a competitive sport. Want to know its benefits, the nutrition needed to get the most of it, and some valuable tips? Just read on. We have it all here.
- Weight management
Cycling to lose weight? Yes, losing weight is a valid reason to get on your bike and start riding. The key to losing weight is a proper diet and enough exercise, which can be done through cycling.
- Blood pressure
High blood pressure can lead you to have various health problems. Cycling is an exercise that can help you to fight high blood pressure. This is where cycling can help. It lowers blood pressure over some time. It has been found that after 3 months, blood pressure can reduce by 4.3%. After 6 months, it can further reduce by 11.8%.
- Cardiovascular health
Another benefit is cardiovascular health. It has been found that individuals who cycle to work will experience various health benefits. Among them is improved cardiovascular functioning.
- Lung health
The activity can keep the lungs healthy, which applies to both people who have and do not have a lung condition.
- Fitness levels
When you cycle, you do aerobic exercise, which has been found to improve fitness levels. The activity is beneficial because you can always change the intensity of it according to your needs.
It has been discovered that if you often cycle or incorporate it, their physical activities are usually fitter than those who do other physical activities.
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- Improved mental health
Yes, it improves your mental health, too. Studies have shown that the activity improves not just cognitive function but also helps to reduce depression and anxiety.
- Low impact
Last but not least, it is a low-impact exercise. Meaning, it is a safe option for those who have weak or damaged joints and older adults. In addition, because it is a low-impact exercise, it allows people who have injuries or disabilities to stay active.
When you cycle, you also have to consider about nutrition you should pick. Here are some essential things to remember.
- Hydration is important
It does not matter your nutrition plan; it is not likely to be effective if you are not well-hydrated. Why? Because dehydration slows your gut motility and gastric emptying. A bit of dehydration may not have an apparent effect, but it will only get worse as you get more dehydrated.
- Carbohydrate is the fuel
Carbohydrate is your fuel when you do strenuous, high-intensity exercises. Of course, that includes cycling as well. Having low carbohydrate stores is fine if you do not cycle intensely.
If, on the other hand, you cycle intensely, low carbohydrate stores will detriment your performance. This is why you need to eat carbohydrates.
- Eat enough carbohydrates, but not too much
While carbohydrate is vital, you should avoid overeating it. You just need to eat enough amount. And that’s it. Neither undereating nor overeating is good. The standard recommendation is to eat 30 to 60 grams of carb per hour of aerobic exercise.
- Separate hydration from calories
Sports drinks that are rich in carbohydrates are definitely helpful. However, like just about anything in life, there is the right time and place for it.
When you cycle, you want to separate hydration from calories. Why? Because your need for hydration is separate from your ability to absorb carbohydrates. Thus, mixing hydration and calories will only complicate the situation.
For example, when you cycle when it is hot, your need for hydration will increase significantly. Your ability to absorb carb, however, will not be different.
- Don’t overeat
Here’s an interesting fact: it is better to eat too little than too much when you cycle. So yes, a little bit of hunger is better than being overfilled.
When you eat more than you need or more than your body can process, the food will stay in your gut too long. The result? You will feel nauseous. When this happens, the best way to remedy it is to slow down, cool down, drink water, and just wait.
On the contrary, if you are a bit hungry, you can quickly recover by eating some carbs. If you are well-hydrated, you only need 10 minutes to remedy the slight caloric deficit by consuming 20 to 25 grams of carbs.
Here are some valuable tips.
- Protect your head
When you cycle, always wear cycling helmets. It is estimated that head injuries account for about 60% of all cycling deaths every year in the US. Many of which can be avoided if cyclists wore a helmet when they ride.
- Get a proper bike fit
Want to make riding easier? Get a proper bike fit. Set up your bike so that it fits your body correctly. An appropriate bike fit will make riding a lot more efficient, more manageable and cause more minor soreness and pain during and after the ride.
- Get the right cycling saddle
You also want to get the right saddle. A saddle may not seem that important, but it does make a huge difference when you ride. You want a harness that allows you to ride comfortably for a long time.
- Do change your position when you ride
Move your rear end and arms when you ride. These parts will get numb if you leave them in a given position for a prolonged time. So, do change your position every once in a while to prevent feeling numb.
- Never ride with headphones on
When you ride, you need to be aware of the situation around you. Wearing headphones will hinder you from doing that. You want to hear everything around you, so you can respond to it appropriately if anything happens.
- Know the rules
Make sure to obey all road signs and ride with traffic. Again, be aware of the situation around you (like watching the cars in front of you) so that you can anticipate if something happens.
Now you know more about cycling. As we have shown above, it is an activity that brings a lot of benefits. But, of course, to earn the most out of the exercise, you will need proper nutrition, not unlike any other training. So, are you ready to cycle?