According to three separate studies, cyclists live longer by three to eight more years on average. One study looked at the dates of death of 834 cyclists who rode the Tour de France from 1930 to 1964, and found that they lived an extra eight years. Another study examined the effect of the intensity of training on the cyclists’ life expectancy and found that those who trained the greatest intensity lived an extra five years, while those who cycled with moderate intensity added three years.
How Cycling Adds Years to Your Life
It all boils down slowing down the decline of cardiovascular health. In Australia, cardiovascular disease accounts for over 40,000 deaths every year, according to the Heart Foundation. When you add cycling to your routine, whether you’re a competitive cyclist, a recreational cyclist, or a purely functional cyclist, you improve your cardiovascular health through this activity which increases your VO2 max. VO2 max is the measure of the maximum amount of oxygen that one can consume during exercise.
Cycling’s Effect to Mental Health
Unlike long distance runners, who tend to go solo, cyclists form a unique social bond which helps to combat depression and even increases one’s self esteem. Tinkering with the bike is also a great way to stimulate problem areas of the brain, improve brain health, and stave off dementia. It is said that education at any stage of life reduces the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
Getting Ready to Start Cycling
With all these health benefits, how can you not start cycling? You can ask your physiotherapist, personal trainer, or trusted bike shop to help you choose the right bicycle for you. Not all bikes are set up the same way and it is best for you to determine which one is best for you given your specific needs. Next, go get yourself protective gears, like helmet, padded shorts, and sunglasses. You want to make sure that you are always riding safe. Once you’re all set, you can try riding around a park with a bike lane. It would also be great to join a cycling group.
The Role of Physiotherapy in Cycling
You shouldn’t wait for an injury to happen before going to a physiotherapy center. In fact, the sooner you go to a physio, the better. Your physiotherapist can provide you a tailored training program, considering your past injuries, illnesses, lifestyle, and work life. They can also help set up your bike to minimize stresses on the joints and tendons. Physios are familiar with the common injuries among cyclists, such as knee pain, lower back pain, Achilles tendinopathies, muscle soreness, and hip issues, and they can help you prevent these from happening to you.
Cycling improves one’s health in so many ways. Regular training speeds up metabolism and gives you more energy throughout your day. And it’s not just about physical health, there are a lot of mental health benefits as well. Allow yourself to benefit from this exercise and add years to your life!
Tim Ellis is the Principal Physiotherapist at Excel Physiotherapy and Wellness in Mascot, New South Wales, Australia. He specialises in treating complex necks and backs and developing highly effective exercise programs for his patients. Tim is committed to integrative health, healthy eating, exercise, and life long learning which he shares through his blogs.