Why the Tour de France should inspire the cyclist in you …
Healthy reasons why you should get on your bike
Pro cyclists are arguably the fittest athletes around and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take a leaf out of their book by getting on your bike and hitting the roads in a bid to cycle yourself fit.
Taking place over 23 days, the annual Tour de France puts riders of 20 teams in competition for the much-coveted Yellow Jersey across 2,175 miles (3,500km). The epic race, which is broken into 21 stages from one town to another, covers a range of downhill and heavy-going terrains, including the Alps. As the world’s most famous cycle race, it demands huge reserves of mental and physical strength of its competitors and this persistence should inspire us all to get on our bikes …
Whether you’re touring the Alps, the Pyrenees or even just nipping to the shops, cycling is an activity that exercises the mind as well as the body. Here’s realbuzz.com’s top tips why cycling is a great way of boosting your day-to-day health …
- Strengthens the cardiovascular system. Cycling is an activity that requires sustained energy and lower-body muscular power. As a result, it proves a brilliant way of strengthening the cardio-vascular system. This system is made up of the heart and lungs and the fitter you become, the more efficiently these work. This means a better flow of blood through your body and a corresponding increase in the speed with which oxygen is delivered to muscles. Your stamina and fitness depend on how well this process is carried out and by increasing your cycling over time, there will be an associated improvement in these levels.
- Improves breathing quality. Because cyclists need great stamina to cover long distances, a strong pair of lungs is essential in pumping oxygen round the blood and, in turn, energizing leg muscles over a lengthy period. With constant bike exercise over time, your body’s breathing apparatus will improve, making it more comfortable for you to stay the pace on your bike and much easier to breathe during daily routines.
- Burns off the calories. Cycling is an activity renowned for its calorie-burning exercise. Just take a look at Tour de France finishers who are estimated to burn a whopping 118,000 — the equivalent of 5,100 calories or 10 Big Macs a day! Biking requires intensive exercise to keep you moving but its calorie-burning incentives are surely worthwhile.
- Builds leg muscle strength. Using a bike can help to tone your quad, calf and glut muscles, as well as strengthening your tendons, without the need for any load-bearing. You could even take this one stage further by combining cycling with a weights program in the gym, to simultaneously boost upper and lower body strength.
- Activates your brain! It’s not just the body that can benefit from a breath of fresh air through cycling in the outdoors. This cardiovascular activity energizes the mind as well as tendons and calf muscles, by improving the oxygen supply to the brain. The knock-on effects of this include a healthier mind that sees feelings of depression and anxiety reduced. Regular cycling, even over fairly short distances, therefore promotes psychological well-being as well as physical fitness.
- Reduced risk of injury. Cycling is a non-load-bearing form of exercise, meaning it does not require the whole body to be supported while you do it. The very action of sitting means that a degree of pressure is being taken off your joints, drastically reducing the chance of injury. Many people returning to training after an injury (e.g. runners) use the bike as a way of re-gaining fitness, as they can gradually boost their muscles and cardiovascular system without putting pressure on a potentially suspect joint or tendon.
- The perfect getaway activity. Cycling vacations are fast becoming enjoyable, active getaway options for families. Whether journeying abroad to enjoy foreign adventures, or in the grounds of activity camps, biking holidays are fantastic ways to have fun, get fit and take in some stunning scenery at the same time.