Shucks, I knew typing that line would get the Queen song stuck in my head. Now I'm going to be singing that all day! It's very true though - cycling is just about my favorite cardio exercise.
What I enjoy most about riding my bike is the scenery. It's what inspires me to get out the door, even if I don't particularly feel like exercising. I am so fortunate to live near some beautiful trails. Here is a gallery of images from my route.
From the "cathedrals" of trees to the occasional wildlife spotting, each bike ride is a mini-adventure of sorts. You never know what you might see that day, so it's a bit more exciting than staring at the basement wall and thumping away on a treadmill. Being outdoors, and particularly in the woods, is so peaceful and restorative. As I coast along on my bike, I can listen to bird calls, the soft hum of insects, and the wind brushing through leaves. All the sights and sounds of nature really help to clear my mind, at least for a few moments.
Aside from an opportunity to enjoy the scenery, here are a few terrific reasons to start biking outdoors.
Benefits of cycling
Cardiovascular fitness. Studies have shown cycling to be protective against heart disease. It works to strengthen cardiac muscles and lower the resting heart rate.
Muscle endurance. Aside from strengthening the heart muscles, biking also provides a workout for the major muscle groups of the legs. If you want to push yourself, pedal in a higher gear to increase resistance.
Balance and coordination. One of the most fundamental aspects of riding a bike is, of course, keeping your balance. Riding over rough terrain or hopping the occasional curb can challenge you to stay aware of your body's location in space, and hopefully stay upright. :) These abilities that you gain through cycling can carry over into other everyday tasks, like climbing stairs.
Benefits of exercising outdoors
Improved mood. Being out in the sunshine can boost serotonin levels. Meanwhile, the act of exercising releases endorphins, so you get two feel-good hormones for the price of one! And this figurative "price" leads me to my next point...
It doesn't cost anything. Instead of signing up for a pricey gym membership, you can just step out the door and explore your neighborhood. Just have an idea of where you're going first, and be safe. (Stay in well-lit areas, etc.) If someplace doesn't feel right, you can always turn in the opposite direction or take a different street.
Challenging terrain. Hills... Need I say more? Before I sound too negative however, I'll admit that screaming down a hill is exhilarating enough to cancel out the difficulty of the uphill climb.
'Til next time,
"Cycling - Health Benefits". Better Health Channel, 2013, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/cycling-health-benefits. Accessed 13 Aug 2018.
Norvell, Shanay. "7 Health Benefits Of Outdoor Exercise". Piedmont Healthcare, https://www.piedmont.org/living-better/7-health-benefits-of-outdoor-exercise. Accessed 13 Aug 2018.
"The Top 5 Benefits Of Cycling". Harvard Health Publishing, 2016, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-top-5-benefits-of-cycling. Accessed 13 Aug 2018.