With the Cape Town Cycle Tour within our grasp, thousands of riders will flock to the Mother City this weekend to tackle the event’s iconic route. However, if you’re not among the pedal converts, you might struggle to see the appeal of this annual flurry of spokes and parade of lycra.
In reality, you should be experiencing at least some FOMO because those in the saddle are tapping into some very real, attainable health benefits. Regularly tackling tarmac or trail in the driver’s seat of a reliable steed won’t just help boost your endurance, but can also help improve heart health, ramp up your strength, and boost your mood.
Let’s look at a few more reasons you should join in for the ultimate ride:
1. Cycling Keeps Your Heart Happy
A cycling session will net you a serious cardio workout, so it’s no suprise then that riders often have some of the healthiest hearts. Studies from Purdue University found that logging regular cycling sessions could slash your heart disease risk by up to 50%.
And to tap into these benefits you’ll only need to rack up about 32km of pedaling, a relatively easy feat considering most riders can achieve this metric in a couple hours (at slower speeds).
2. Cycling Can Burn Calories Fast
At average speeds, you’ll torch around 600 calories per hour while in the saddle. That’s the equivalent of around two slices of cheesecake aka putting a serious dent in your weight loss goals. Plus, if you’re tackling some tricky hills, you’ll start to build extra muscle that’ll ramp up your body’s metabolism, making it easier for you to maintain a deficit.
3. Cycling Can Bust Stress
Need a mood boost? A saddle session could be exactly what the doctor ordered. Concordia’s John Molson School of Business found that cycling can help reduce stress and even improve your performance at work. Researchers analysed the stress levels of those who commuted to the office and found that riders were less strung out in the first 45 minutes of their day than those who legged it by car. Time to retire your workhorse sedan in favour of a horse that works your muscles? We think so.
4. Cycling Gets You Outdoors
And that’s more important than you think. Many studies have found that logging just 20 minutes in some natural surroundings will do wonders for your mood and overall mental health. Your move: head for the nearest trail and start pedaling. You’ll bag a workout, adventure and therapy session in one trip.
5. Cycling Builds Strength
Research has found that high intensity interval training in the hotseat of a bicycle can induce that coveted muscle hypertrophy and strength gain. You’ll want to swap out the lengthy endurance sessions for short bursts of 100% effort reminiscent of your CrossFit sessions.