The disturbing fact that heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death on a worldwide level for the last several years has been announced by the World Health Organization. The majority of the governments around the world, including the US government, are taking precautions and are setting regulations and recommendations to lower the risk of their populations of developing one or more of these dangerous and often deadly conditions.
The US government recommends that adults should perform 1.5 hours of vigorous or 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic physical exercise per week, and eat properly balanced diets in order to curb the risk of becoming obese, hypertensive, with high cholesterol levels or diabetic.
Cycling is most definitely one of the best cardio and aerobic exercises, which makes it one of the best activities to perform if you want to improve your heart health too.
Here is how cycling can help make your heart stronger and your overall health better:
Cycling is less stressful on the joints and bones
Although riding a bicycle can be quite a vigorous cardio exercise, it is a low impact activity and puts much less stress on your legs and joints than running or other high impact sports and exercises.
This means that you are much less prone to injuries and health problems than runners who often suffer from the running-related leg, foot and back problems, and injuries.
Also, with a bicycle you can reach further and much faster to wherever you are going than by running or walking there, so you will be saving time as well.
Even if you are really out of shape, lack the confidence to get on a bicycle due to your age, health or other reason, you can still benefit from cycling by getting an electric bike. E-bikes look like traditional bicycles but they have batteries and motors, which make them much easier to ride and much faster too. Pedelec electric bikes do require that you do some pedalling, so you will still be getting that physical exercise you need in order to improve your heart health, and yet you can always rely on the motor which can help you get uphill easily or get to your destination much easier and faster.
You can choose the type and intensity of your cycling in accordance to your fitness level and goals
You don’t need to compete in the Tour de France in order to benefit from cycling. The fact is that cycling is a great cardio exercise not only because it puts less impact on your joints and bones, but also because you can choose your type of bicycle, your route, and the intensity of your ride. You can choose a hilly route if you want to get a more vigorous workout, or you can take a short trip via a flat and smooth road if you prefer a lower intensity cardio workout with your bike.
Also, you can even do some cycling at home or at the gym on a stationary bike as well, so you don’t have to worry about the weather, the traffic and about other external factors too.
What does science say about the correlation between cycling and heart health?
A study from 2016 which was published in the Circulation Journal found that people who ride a bicycle just 30 minutes a day have a 15% lower risk of suffering from a heart attack or stroke as compared to people who don’t cycle.
Another research found that those who choose to commute by cycling are at lower risk of developing cardiovascular problems and ischemic disease than commuters who prefer driving, or relying on public transportation. The findings of the research team were that the cyclists were less prone to suffering from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and prediabetes than the other more sedentary commuters.
Also, cycling just like any other intensive physical exercise helps reduce stress and can even help resolve mild depression and anxiety. This is due to the fact that vigorous physical activity leads to the release of more endorphins and adrenaline in the brain and body which make us feel happy and elated, and less stressed. And as you know – the lower your stress levels, the lower your risk is of suffering from heart and other health problems.
How to get the best for your heart by cycling
In order to take advantage of all of the health benefits of cycling, including the improvement of your heart health and the prevention of conditions like heart disease, strokes, and heart attack, you will need to find the best bicycle to suit your needs.
Choosing the appropriate bike is essential not only for your comfort but also for your safety and for your overall wellbeing.
If you are new to cycling, you should try out riding different bikes before buying one. You can do that by borrowing from friends or renting different bicycles.
You can also ask the experts at your bike shop to perform a bike-fitting for you to ensure that you get a bicycle which suits your body type and size, and is appropriate for your needs and purposes.
Older people or those who are not as fit as they would like to be may want to opt for a comfort bike. Bikes like this are usually with wider wheels, high rise handlebars and lower tubes and shock absorbent seats which make them much easier and more comfortable to ride.
An even better option for people who are elderly, unhealthy, or recovering from an injury is to invest in an electric bike. With an electric bike, you can still get the exercise you need and yet you can always rely on the motor as well.
For newbies who don’t have a clear plan about their cycling activities, it is recommended to choose a hybrid bike. Hybrid bikes are suitable for all types of terrains and can be found at very reasonable prices.
If you are planning on commuting or riding on roads predominantly, you should opt for a road bike. For the off-roaders, there are cyclocross bikes and mountain bikes you can buy too.
Other options include tricycles, recumbent bikes and many more.
You can also invest in a stationary exercise bike which you can ride at home, or join a local spinning class or go to the gym where you will find high-end exercise bikes with adjustable intensity levels and various other workout features as well.
Please, remember to speak to your doctor before taking up cycling if you have an underlying health problem or condition. In some cases, intensive exercising is not recommended, so do check this out with your physician first.
Even if you are not fit enough to ride a bicycle, you can still enjoy the fun of riding by getting an e-bike instead.
As you can see, in the majority of the cases, cycling can be an excellent cardio exercise and a way to get fitter, become healthier and strengthen your heart.