When I think about whole body workouts, that get your heart pumping, raise your mood, and lead to full body fat loss and conditioning – the first thing that comes to mind for me is running, and, whilst running is a fantastic choice for many, for some people it is just too high impact. Others are put off by the thought of running out in public, or not being able to go any great distance, especially if they are just starting out, myself included!
This is where cycling, and in particular stationary cycling, comes in. It boasts many of the same benefits, but is much gentler on the body, and it can be done to whatever level of intensity suits you – all from the comfort of your own home. As the saying goes ‘it’s just like riding a bike’ – it’s one of those activities that the majority of us have experience in and, I think, also evokes those warm childhood memories of cycling with friends.
Cycling is a cardiovascular workout, meaning that it strengthens the heart muscle and teaches it to pump more effectively, even when you are not engaged in exercise. During Cardiovascular workouts your heart, and respiration rate increase, leading to higher levels of oxygen and blood flow benefitting the whole body.
Over time, with regular exercise, your overall blood volume levels increase, and your body learns how to better utilise oxygen entering the lungs and send it to the muscles in need. I don’t think we need a doctor to tell us that this can only be a good thing…
Whilst cycling, depending on the intensity of the workout, you may breathe up to 60 times a minute, taking in up to 100 litres of air, whereas during inactivity an adult will breathe roughly 15 times a minute, taking in around 12 litres of air. People that engage in regular cardiovascular workouts enjoy several health benefits; Improved heart health, sounder sleep, increased cognitive function, elevated mood levels, lower cholesterol, and lower blood pressure… just to name a few!
Physical activity can even help stave off the effects of aging and lowers the risk of development of conditions such as Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.
Cycling is also an efficient calorie burner – you can burn up to 600 calories an hour using a stationary bike and many, like those available at Sport Store Ireland, have a display so you can track your progress whilst you cycle.
The joy of a stationary bike, is that you can do this whilst watching your favourite show, a documentary or even a movie – I know that I struggle mentally when engaging in exercise – the body is willing but the mind… well the mind wants to sit in front of the fire in a dressing gown and watch Netflix! I’ve tried various indoor exercises over the years, whilst watching tv, and found that most are impossible to do, and keep track of what you're watching.
Stationary cycling is the best of both worlds. Also, the thoughts some days of heading out into the wild Irish weather is enough to put you off track, now you can reap the benefits, but stay warm and dry indoors.
Joint pain can become a regular issue for many fitness enthusiasts, but cycling is gentle on the hips, knees and feet so you can train for longer, and with less discomfort using a stationary bike - in comparison to other high impact workouts. So, you’ll feel as though you’re not working as hard, but still getting the results you crave, and with less risk of injury.
Cycling builds, and maintains the leg muscles, this alone is a fantastic benefit – but what a lot of people don’t realise, is that strong legs, and in particular strong glutes, help to stabilise our spines. If you’re suffering with lower back pain, balance issues, or difficulty when climbing stairs, cycling could be the antidote for you. It is gentle enough to not increase pain, but still effective.
It also won’t leave you looking like a body builder – as cycling is a cardiovascular workout, it results in lean, strong muscles, it’s perfect for toning the legs.
Stationary bikes also stand the test of time – you can use them at pretty much any age, and at any level of ability. If you are an older person looking to increase your fitness, or someone with mobility limits, stationary cycling can be a great place to begin. Always seek the advice of a health professional before starting any new sport, of course, but this is one of the most accessible, effective, home work outs to try.
So, what are you waiting for? Hop on your bike, stick on Netflix, and enjoy!