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Friday, May 24, 2019

National Bike Month! Here are 10 Benefits of Cycling for the Whole Family

Photo by Rachel Coleman (Flickr)

Tune up your bike! May is National Cycling Month. The weather in many areas has become beautiful, so it's a great time for families to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. My girls and I have been enjoying our local cycling path, and it inspired me to share some information on why cycling is not only fun but great for your health, too. Give this a read, then grab your helmet, get outside, and get your wheels rolling!

  1. It's good for the joints. Many people are fans of running as a form of outdoor exercise. However, it's well-known that running is rough on joints, especially the knees. Biking is much easier on your joints, but you'll still reap the benefits of burning calories.
  2. You'll improve your muscle tone. Cycling works all of the major muscle groups, like your legs, abs, and back. Whether you're on a path, going uphill, or biking on a flat road, you're using your muscles to move you along.
  3. Cycling decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease. A Danish study found that regular cycling protected participants from heart disease. Some studies have shown that it may also be linked to lowered rates of bowel cancer.
  4. It's good for your brain. Cycling is a lot of fun, so it should be no surprise that it has great benefits for your mental health. Many studies have shown that cycling, like many forms of exercise, can help reduce anxiety and depression.
  5. Cycling will improve sleep. Any form of exercise is said to improve sleep quality, and cycling is no exception! If you have kids who don't like to sleep or won't sleep through the night, maybe it's time to get them a set of wheels.
  6. You can decrease your exposure to pollution. A study by the Healthy Air Campaign in London showed that those who travel by car were exposed to three times more pollution than those who travel by bicycle. With this in mind, you might want to switch more of your commutes to cycling journeys.
  7. Biking powers up your brain. A study by Charles Hillman indicated that cycling boosts brainpower. It can even help to stave off Alzheimer's in the elderly.
  8. Cycling can make you feel good about yourself. Exercise in general, but especially cycling, has been shown to improve self-esteem. That's a benefit that the whole family can enjoy!
  9. You don't need to be an expert. Compared to other sports, cycling demands a relatively low level of skill and knowledge. Nearly anyone can learn how to ride a bike, and you know what they say: Once you learn, you never forget. I know learning to ride a bike without training wheels was one of my eldest daughter's proudest moments!
  10. Biking helps to save the planet. Cycling is a mode of transportation that doesn't create harmful carbon emissions like cars and trucks do, meaning that it's great for the planet. You can use cycling as an environmental lesson for kids: Encourage them to ride their bikes to the park or the corner store instead of asking for a ride from their parents to reduce pollution.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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