-By Ankit Tuladhar
With the New Year, many of us will be coming up with resolutions that we probably won’t be able to keep for more than a month. Instead of such resolutions, why not come up with an easy one, such as taking up cycling? Most of us know how to pedal and taking up cycling will benefit both us and the environment. The trend of cycling during leisure time keeps growing by the day in Nepal, with both the younger and older generation caught up in this activity.
There are already too many vehicles in our cities spewing carbon particulates and other harmful gases. So by resolving to cycle more and use our vehicles less, we’d be doing our bit to offset the overall carbon footprint we leave behind. And as an added bonus, we can avail of the many health benefits that are associated with cycling. Let’s look at a few of the major benefits:
1. Cycling is one of the easiest ways to exercise
You can ride a bicycle almost anywhere, at any time of the year, and without spending a fortune. Many people put off taking up certain sports because of the high level of skill that seems to be required to do so, or perhaps because they can’t commit to a sport owing to time constraints. But cycling is different. Most of us know how to cycle , and all you need for it is a bike, a half an hour here or there when it suits you, and you are on your way.
2. Cycling is a holistic exercise
Contrary to the commonly held belief, cycling is not a fitness activity that solely involves the legs. Cycling builds strength in a holistic manner, since every single part of the body is involved in the activity.
3. Cycling strengthens and tones your muscles
Cycling improves general muscle function gradually, with little risk of over-exercise or strain. Regular cycling strengthens leg muscles and is great for improving the mobility of the hip and knee joints. As you cycle more, you will gradually begin to see an improvement in the muscle tone of your legs, thighs, rear end and hips.
4. Cycling builds stamina
Cycling is a good way to build stamina. It is a very effective exercise for doing so, because people enjoy cycling, and unlike with many other exercise regimens, pushing yourself further does not turn into a chore.
5. Cycling improves cardio-vascular fitness
Cycling makes the heart pound in a steady manner and helps improve cardio-vascular fitness. Studies have shown that cycling to a work site located at some distance can increase a person’s cardiovascular fitness by 3-7 percent. Cycling uses the largest muscle groups, the legs, and raises the heart rate substantially. Kick-starting your heart at least once a day and maintaining a high level of cardiovascular activity for an extended period of time can do wonders for you. According to the British Medical Association, cycling just 20 miles a week can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 50 percent. A major study of 10,000 civil servants suggested that those who cycle d 20 miles over a week were half as likely to suffer heart disease as their non-cycling colleagues.
6. Cycling eats up calories
Cycling is a good way to lose those unwanted pounds. Steady cycling burns approximately 300 calories per hour. If you cycle for 30 minutes every day, you would burn 11 pounds of fat in a year. Since it helps build muscles, cycling will also boost your metabolic rate long after you’ve finished your ride.
7. Cycling improves coordination
Cycling is an activity that involves the whole body. Therefore, arm-to-leg, feet-to-hands and body-to-eye coordination are all improved.
8. Cycling reduces stress
Any regular exercise can reduce stress and depression and improve a person’s sense of well-being and self-esteem. Cycling outdoors is also a good way to enjoy nature. It takes your mind out of everyday-life stresses and rejuvenates your body and mind.