What are the benefits of cycling?

The bicycle: What are its benefits and what care should be taken into account?

The arrival of spring and the approaching summer are situations that motivate many people to change certain unhealthy lifestyle habits, get in shape, look good and improve their figure.

At this stage, many people try to have a better night's rest and a more balanced diet, with a reduction of junk food and products that provide little nutritional value.

In addition, at this time, there is also a significant increase in the need for physical activity. Among the possibilities of regular aerobic exercise we have cycling, which in most cases and except for some specific issues, can be practiced by people of all ages.

Bicycling: exercise and health

To feel fit and healthy, you need to be physically active. This is a very simple behavior: to be physically active for 30 to 60 minutes every day. This regular practice, maintained over time, contributes to the prevention and control of various serious diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoarthritis, depression, and even some types of cancer.

For this reason, daily bicycle commuting is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle.

The bicycle is a means of transportation widely used worldwide, not only as a means of recreation or physical exercise, but also as a vehicle to go to work, carry out formalities or visit family and friends. It combines fun, health, union and companionship. To this we can add that it has no cost, beyond the cost of the bicycle, which is paid only once, and it is the most environmentally friendly because it does not generate pollution.

As with any form of regular exercise, there is a noticeable increase in longevity in patients who use the bicycle regularly, as well as an improvement in the immune system and an increase in our body's defenses.

Benefits of travel, transportation and cycling

  • It's easy: unlike other sports, cycling does not require high levels of physical ability.
  • It is fun: pedaling lowers the stress level, since it is a sport practiced outdoors, it helps to disconnect the mind for a few moments, allows interacting with other people and sharing experiences.
  • It is a cardiovascular exercise: with greater or lesser intensity depending on the route and time performed. If you move your legs, you move your heart.
  • Increases endurance, strength and aerobic capacity.
  • Decreases body fat levels, a great aid for weight loss
  • It is a good muscle workout: cycling uses all the major muscle groups while.
  • Improved joint mobility, posture and coordination.
  • Unlike walking or running, it is a low-impact practice that causes less stress on the hip and knee joints.
  • Cycling can be done at very low intensity, ideal for recovering from injury or illness, but it can also become a demanding physical workout.
  • It should be practiced regularly but with care to increase the demands gradually, to avoid overloading or muscle injuries.

Injury prevention and safety recommendations

  • A very important aspect is to know and respect all the rules of vehicular traffic: the bicycle is a means of transportation, therefore it must be driven as such.
  • The first thing to do is to select a bicycle that is appropriate to the physical build, weight, height and age of the user (frame size, seat and handlebar height, appropriate gears and transmission).
  • The foot placement on the pedals will depend on our training, ability and the terrain where we are going to practice (street or mountain). Special cleats and shoes make pedaling much more efficient, less effort for more power and speed, but require a certain habit to avoid falls and injuries.
  • Selecting the type of saddle is also key. It will depend on the type of bike (road or mountain), but also on personal comfort and history of disease or prostate problems.
  • Always wear protective helmets to reduce the risk of head trauma due to a fall on the head.
  • Wearing a pair of sports glasses can keep dust and insects out of your eyes.
  • Wearing high-visibility clothing (bright colors or reflective vests) and identifying lights on the vehicle are basic road safety recommendations (white light at the front and red light at the rear).
  • In the event of any ailment or injury, the family physician should be consulted.

Dr. Matias Villalba.
Director, Sports Medicine Center, University Private Hospital of Córdoba. Member of the Argentine Association of Sports Traumatology.