BBC Radio Kent: Health benefits of cycling

Media sport psychology consultant and peak performance consultant Roberto Forzoni is invited to speak with @BBCRadiokent for an insight into the world of elite performance, psychology of behaviour and performance, well-being and positive mental health.

With COVID-19 enforcing changes in lifestyles, one major benefit that has come out of this pandemic is the huge increase in people cycling – both indoors and outdoors, to the extent that in the past few days, the New York Times reported a World shortage of bikes! (see article here)

The health benefits of cycling are huge, and there are a few disadvantages (road traffic & a lack of cycle lanes in major cities outside of places like Amsterdam are the main negatives). As a non-load bearing exercise, cycling can be beneficial if you’re just getting back into fitness or are overweight, as, compared to jogging, the pressures on joints are minimal.

As with many forms of exercise, cycling can help from physical and psychological perspectives.

Physical Health Benefits of Cycling

From a physical perspective, some of the positives are obvious, and others not so much. The list includes:

  • Increased cardiovascular fitness.
  • Increased muscle strength and flexibility.
  • Improved joint mobility.
  • Improved posture and coordination.
  • Strengthened bones.
  • Decreased body fat levels.
  • prevention or management of disease

Psychological / Mental Health Benefits of Cycling

From a psychological perspective, again, benefits are significant.

When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to morphine. Other mental health benefits include:

  • Reduces anxiety
  • Reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol
  • Calmer thinking. …
  • Combats depression. …
  • Increases self-esteem
  • Reduces the risk of depression. …
  • It helps you sleep better. …
  • It improves your memory. …
  • It helps you feel good. …
  • Improves creative thinking. …
  • It helps boost productivity. …

Social Benefits of Cycling

Additionally, as social creatures with an innate need to interact with others, cycling in groups or with family and friends can have a huge positive boost to our general well-being. Even virtual training now generally incorporates a degree of social interaction with the huge demand for home exercise options.

So, if you haven’t already, give it a go!

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