Cycling is good for health. For one, it reduces death risks. In Denmark, a 15-year study associates cycling with a 40% reduction in mortality for both sexes over all ages (Archives of Internal Medicine, 2000).
Basically, a person who cycles as a commuter consistently can expect, according to a report released in a 1986 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, to live longer than those who don’t.
Cycling can also give you a high fitness level. The average daily cyclist has the fitness level of someone 10 years younger.
To summarise, cycling is good for your overall health in the following ways:
1. REDUCES weight when done regularly. Cycling increases calorie consumption and raises the metabolic rate, which can help to lose weight.
2. IMPROVES control of blood pressure by 10/8 mmHg in patients with hypertension (Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, 1995).
3. LOWERS resting heart rate. A high resting heart rate has been linked to increased death from cardiovascular disease and increased risk of sudden death after a heart attack in healthy individuals.
4. IMPROVES HDL (good)/ LDL (bad) cholesterol ratio. If the ratio of LDL to HDL is too high, that means your blood is being loaded with cholesterol faster than the HDL cholesterol can remove it, which means excess cholesterol is building up inside the tissues and arteries. Eventually hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which causes most heart attacks, takes place.
5. PREVENTS heart disease. Regular cycling halves the chance of suffering from heart disease, one of the top 3 killer diseases in Malaysia. A study reported a 50% reduction in fatal and non-fatal heart disease in civil servants who cycled over 20 miles/week.
6. BENEFITS cardiovascular health. Cycling also reduces the risk of stroke (a major killer in Malaysia) and coronary heart disease. In a study, regular exercise on a static cycle machine in patients with heart failure improves cardiac function (Lancet, 1990).
7. REDUCES diabetes. Exercise has been to shown to lead to a reduction in the rate of diabetes mellitus. In patients with diabetes mellitus, regular exercise leads to an improvement in control of blood sugar and can help to prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes mellitus.
8. REDUCES cancer. Physical activity has been shown to be associated with reduced rates of cancer (eg: bowel cancer, and possibly also breast cancer) (European Journal of Epidemiology, 2000).
9. REDUCES cholecystectomy (surgical removal of the gallbladder) rates in women (New England Journal of Medicine, 1999).
10. BENEFITS pregnancy. Cycling when pregnant improves cardiovascular fitness. And regular exercise may ease childbirth (Bicycling, June 1988).
11. REDUCES anxiety, depression and stress (Preventive Medicine, 1988).
12. TRAINS respiratory muscles (Report of the Royal College of Physicians, London; 1991).
13. IMPROVES muscle strength. Cycling is a non-weight bearing activity and regular cycling leads to improved muscle strength and improved mobility and coordination (Allot & Lomax and the Policy Studies Institute, 1998).