Pedal your way to healthy living
As a popular bicycling race held in France draws to a close, we speak to experts about the health benefits of the fitness option
Cycling is considered one of the healthiest habits an individual can cultivate, according to many fitness experts. “It is one of the easiest ways to exercise. One can go cycling anytime and anywhere, regardless of the weather condition,” says Dr Anil Ballani, consulting physician. It also proves to be highly functional as a pocketfriendly and a green means of transport. With the ongoing annual cycling event, Tour De France, making headlines, interest in cycling is at an alltime high. Here, fitness specialists reiterate the advantages of the activity.
Indoor cycling versus outdoor cycling
In a metropolitan city, cycling also means getting out on crowded roads, and dealing with the humidity, pollution and traffic. One tends to wonder then whether indoor cycling is a better option. But apparently it is not. In fact, experts say that indoor cycling is only recommended for people with problems of imbalance, vertigo and vision. “Outdoor cycling helps one’s coordination skills much better than static cycling can. Exposure to sunlight is also good for general health, as nowadays, most people in cities are tested positive for Vitamin D deficiency,” says Dr Vivek Allahbadia, a consulting orthopedic and joint surgeon. Studies have shown that wind drag can result in much greater energy demands during 40km of outdoor cycling than the same distance on a stationary bike.
Although recreational cycling is considered beneficial, it is only so when done for at least three hours a week or 32km per week. Open-air cycling gives one a sense of wellbeing. Also, if people change their cycling routes regularly, then it breaks the monotony of their daily routine. “I still remember cycling to my school as a kid. It continues to be one of the most thrilling activities for me. Recently, I visited the Lakshadweep Islands, where I cycled at the beach. It was one of the most pleasant experiences of my life. I would definitely recommend recreational cycling to all,” says actor Richa Sony.
Negative effects of cycling
In rare cases, cycling may cause angina. Hence, those with delicate health conditions should always take the advice of their doctors before taking up cycling. If cycling is not done in a gradual manner, it can worsen arthritis.
Cycling and diabetes
A research carried out in Finland found that people who cycled for more than 30 minutes per day had a 40% lower risk of developing diabetes. Experts agree that cycling helps in controlling diabetes, as an intense cardio-exercise works like insulin when it comes to reducing blood sugar levels. But, if diabetics do not complement their cycling lifestyle with a good diet plan, it can cause havoc.