Although you notice pain in those thigh muscles only and feel like cycling did some cardiovascular work too in your body, there are a lot of muscles and factors that cycling will help to improve.
MUSCLES INVOLVED WHILE CYCLING
That said, let us know about the muscle cycling targets. Cycling primarily targets lower body muscles, muscles of your arms, and your core too.
In more depth, cycling will target, exercise, develop, and tone following body parts:
Thigh – Hamstrings and quadriceps.
Foot – Plantar Flexors and Dorsiflexors
The muscles mentioned above are excellently targeted and can be developed and toned by cycling regularly.
The most obvious area that cycling targets are the lower body. The quadriceps and hamstrings are intensely worked and moreover, your calf muscles are strongly involved to make that stout grip with the pedal.
The gluteal muscles or the buttocks work very well as your thigh has to rotate during cycling. Thus, gluteal muscles will be toned and muscles around it will get strong.
In addition to the lower body, cycling also works on your whole core musculature. The whole stomach and lower back work together to help pedal stronger and more efficiently. It also helps to take the pressure off of the lower back. Moreover, your core muscles are actively involved in improving the balance of cycling.
The prominent parts of the upper body like biceps, triceps, shoulders, and upper back too are actively involved while cycling. You may have cyclists changing their upper body position according to the cycling condition like standing, leaning forward, or ducking on trails which requires huge support from your upper body.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF CYCLING
Cycling is an awesome sport whose health benefits are really wide. Major health benefits of cycling include muscles toning, cardiovascular benefits, and improved blood circulation in the body.
Health benefits of cycling most seen if cycling is done in moderately high intensity.
Actually, cycling can be done on low, moderate, and high intensity. Since, in countries like Japan where people use cycling as a major means of transport, they do it in low intensity. That does not mean that they cannot reap the benefits, they can.
Before that, let’s head on to the major health benefits of cycling one by one.
HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT
Cycling requires a great deal of strength and stamina.
It is one of the best calorie burners. If you cycle at a speed of 10 miles per hour for an hour, then you will burn approximately 260 calories.
How many calories do I need to burn to lose weight?
A caloric deficit of about 3500 calories can shed about 1 pound of body fat in a week. Thus, in a day you have to burn about 500 calories to satisfy your weekly weight loss goal.
Should I only do cycling to burn 500 calories a day?
Yes and No at the same time because it takes a lot of effort and time.
What can I do to lose weight of about 1 lb per week?
You will do a lot of activity over the day. Thus you’ll be burning calories unknowingly also. Since gentle running or jogging at 6 miles per hour will burn 318 calories in 30 minutes, you can combine cycling and running to burn calories.
Thus, cycling does not isolate a muscle rather it works your whole body out, you can maintain your body weight by shedding fat on different body parts.
You will be working your thigh, buttocks, core, calves all at the same time, so you can get a really defined lean body by just cycling.
TONE YOUR BODY MUSCLES
Cycling can tone the muscles of your whole body.
There is a general misconception that cycling only tones your thigh and calves muscles. But the truth is cycling is a full-body workout which involves complete body parts movement.
Since cycling requires a great deal of pedaling, your calf muscles will engage in holding and pressing onto that pedal, your gluteal muscles will support thigh rotation, your thigh will press the pedal, the core will balance the body, biceps and triceps will support your upper body and hold it up and upper back create overall balance in movement.
That said, one can easily understand how effectively cycling targets your whole body muscles. Thus, your muscles will get toned and strengthened.
IMPROVE YOUR CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH
You may have noticed that cycling requires a lot of stamina.
You will soon be out of breath after a short cycling period if you have never done cardiovascular workouts before.
Thus, your heart beats faster than usual. It will eventually help you exercise your heart.
Engaging your cardiovascular system, you can improve your overall heart and lungs’ health.
A study done on sedentary middle-aged men to see the effects of activities like cycling on cardiovascular health. All of those men had positive results, that is, they showed improvement in cardiovascular health. Not only that, but they also had a significant reduction in body weight, skinfold fat, and abdominal girth.
Thus, cycling is undoubtedly one of the best cardiovascular health boosters.
RAISE YOUR GENERAL ENERGY LEVELS
A small morning workout keeps your energy up the whole day. It is actually true. Like other fitness activities, cycling boosts your stamina and develops endurance.
As a result, your enthusiasm and work efficiency will spike up and you will have the feeling of having higher energy while doing your day-to-day work.
Nevertheless, once you start your fitness journey by cycling and advance on it day by day, you will improve your stamina, strength, and endurance. And that is what gives you an extra push to get involved in other advanced physical activities and exercises.
REDUCE YOUR STRESS LEVELS
Do you think a kid jumps out of joy when he gets a bicycle as a birthday present just because he thinks he can now tone his body by cycling?
I don’t think so. My answer is that cycling is a fun and recreational activity and the kid becomes happy as he can enjoy it now.
Sports are a proven method of stress management but every person, young or old, cannot go for hooping dunks in a basketball court or striking butterfly kick in martial arts.
Cycling is one sports activity that fits everyone.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a middle-aged dad or mom. Just borrow your teenage son’s bicycle and ride it half an hour a day. That keeps your food fresh and reduces your stress levels.
Cycling after a long day of working at an office or studying at a room, can relieve you and keep your energy levels intact. Moreover, If you’re a parent, you should encourage your child to participate actively in sports as those who participated in sports had very fewer chances of getting into mental illness like depression.
Regular cycling done by the general population can promote public health by decreasing diabetic patients.
Cycling can effectively help you to control Type-2 Diabetes. A study done by Martin Rasmussen and his colleagues which was published in the PLOS Medicine Journal showed that the use of cycling for transportation and recreation lowers the risk of developing type-2 diabetes.
GET RID OF CANCER
The incidence of fatal diseases like cancer can be significantly reduced by engaging in physical activities like cycling.
Research shows the people who got engaged in moderate to high physical activities in early and middle ages, had a significant reduction in their risk of getting cancer as compared to the ones that did not.
Another study that was done to investigate the relationship between cycling as active commuting and cancer suggested that adopting cycling as a primary method of commuting is associated with decreased risk of cancer.
IMPROVE YOUR MENTAL WELLNESS
Very few people know that cycling not only aids your physical health but also helps to build robust mental health, both functionally and structurally.
In addition to physical health benefits, there are social and psychological benefits of cycling. This makes cycling an awesome enjoyable physical activity.
Cycling can improve your memory and sharpen your problem-solving skills over time. It also helps you sleep better.
A study done on depression patients showed that cycling a stationary bike for merely 15 minutes reduced the level of cortisol, a stress hormone.
A person’s memory, reasoning, and planning capacity is found to improve by cycling. Children involved in cycling can do better in their tests as compared to those who didn’t.
This most likely happens when you go outdoors to cycle. It’s called “Green exercise” which helps to boost enjoyment and motivation.
IMPROVE YOUR JOINT HEALTH
Cycling is a very effective exercise that involves joints of the lower body primarily.
It is, thus, one of the best exercises that helps to prevent and relieve the arthritis symptoms.
You can reap these benefits by both indoor and outdoor cycling equally.
The muscles of your lower body; thigh, glutes, and calves contract and flex while cycling which helps to keep joints healthy, pain-free, and mobile.
SAFETY HEALTH MEASURES WHILE CYCLING
But if you’re a beginner or just starting out in this sport, then you can easily hurt yourself or other people.
There are various instances where people have become seriously injured by not taking precautions while cycling.
Thus, It’s important to follow proper safety health measures to remain safe while cycling. Some of the safety measures for cycling are listed below:
Wear fitting clothes so that clothes don’t get stuck up in chains or pedals.
Ride the bicycle of the proper size that suits your height. Normally, the seat should come up to your hip. Also, your legs should remain almost straight when pedal stroke reaches bottom but complete lockout of knees is also not suggested.
Always keep water available. Fix the water bottle carrier in your cycle frame so that you can drink from time to time. It prevents you from getting dehydrated.
Practice simple warm-up and stretching before starting cycling. It prepares your body for something intense.
Don’t ride a cycle without a helmet. In case of an accident, it can save your head from injury.
Wearing a helmet is perhaps the most important safety measure you need to take.
Wear Elbow and Knee guards, if possible, as they are more prone to getting injured if you fall into an accident.