Cycling used to be known as the sport for MAMILs – Middle-Aged Men In Lycra – but it has grown immensely as a sport in South Africa, particularly in the women’s market, and is now one of the trendiest sports around, with multiple events and races all year round. Here, we showcase the health benefits and explore why it’s such a great form of exercise.
First off, “cycling” is an umbrella term for a few different cycling activities, think: road cycling, mountain biking, gravel biking, indoor training (Spinning, Peloton, Soul Cycle) and there are even more niche forms such as BMX, enduro and cyclo-cross. For the purposes of this article, we will look at cycling in the mainstream.
Let’s get back to those MAMILs: cycling, as a sport, has often been recommended to those who need to do lower-impact exercise, due to injuries or health concerns and, even, ageing. Because cycling is a great form of cardio that is less hard on the body than other cardio exercises, such as running, it’s in fact physically easier to do.
To be fit and healthy you need to be physically active. At least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week – ideally 300 minutes, as per the WHO guidelines.
Regular physical activity can help protect you from serious diseases such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, diabetes and arthritis. Cycling is a healthy, low-impact exercise that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, from young children to older adults. It is also fun, can be used as a mode of transport and is good for the environment. An estimated one-billion people ride bicycles every day – for transport, recreation and sport.
Why You Should Cycle
- You can cycle at multiple levels of intensity. If you’re still building fitness or coming back from an injury, start with low-intensity sessions. This can be done in the gym or out on the road or trails.
- Because the sport is low-impact, you are less likely to get injured and will recover faster in between sessions.
- Cycling uses the major muscle groups and is thus a good form of exercise.
- Cycling increases stamina, strength and aerobic fitness. It’s also a great way to build endurance and complements other sports, such as running.
- It’s easy! It does not require a high level of skill (until you actually start competing) and once you know how to do it, you never forget. With the introduction of e-bikes, now most people can ride together, no matter your fitness level.
Other benefits of regular cycling include: improved joint mobility; decrease in stress levels, anxiety and depression; stronger bones; decrease in body fat and a general prevention or management of other lifestyle diseases.