Live well Suffolk

Health benefits of cycling

Growing up, cycling is one of the much-loved activities among children. As we age, many of us stop using our bikes so much. There are, however, so many reasons why you should get back in the saddle! Let’s take a look!

Cycling for fitness and health

There are so many great health and fitness benefits to cycling. Firstly, it is a low-impact exercise that is enjoyable for young and old alike. It is also relatively cheap as well as being good for the environment.

Health benefits of cycling

Cycling is:

  • A great workout for your muscles. As you pedal, you use all of the major muscle groups.
  • A low-impact sport. This means that it will cause fewer injuries and strains than other sports like running and aerobics.
  • Fairly easy. Even if you haven’t ridden a bike since childhood, you won’t have forgotten the technique. Cycling doesn’t take a lot of specialist skills unlike many other types of sports, archery for example.
  • Great for your stamina and strength. Any cyclist will tell you that cycling definitely increases your aerobic fitness.
  • As intense a workout as you want. You can take it easy and ride down some hills or go all out up the steepest hill in town. It’s also great because you can use cycling to help you recover from injuries.
  • Fun! Let’s not forget the exhilaration of cycling down a hill or around a bend. You get such a buzz from being outside too.
  • Time-efficient. There is nothing quite like killing two birds with one stone. Cycling is a great way to commute and stops sedentary time in a car or on public transport.

What cycling does for your body’s health?

Cycling is an aerobic activity. This means that your lungs, heart and blood vessels get a workout. While cycling, you perspire, breathe deeper and have an increased body temperature. This means that you will be improving your overall level of fitness.

Cycling increases your cardiovascular fitness, increases your flexibility and muscle strength, improves the mobility of your joints, decreases your stress levels, improves coordination and posture, strengthens bones, decreases your body fat percentage, prevents and helps to manage diseases and reduces depression and anxiety.

Cycling in Suffolk

There are many quiet lanes in Suffolk, which are great to cycle along. Suffolk has some of the most beautiful villages in the country with lots of thatched cottages in different pastel colours. For example, Polstead, Cavendish, Lavenham, Thorpeness and East Bergholt.

There is also the longest ford in Debenham. There is over one kilometre of submersion to get through!

If you’re into going a long distance, there is a cycle route along the coast called the Suffolk Coastal Cycle Route. This is 88 miles long and is a circular route that goes along the coast on quiet roads. You’ll pass through Felixstowe, Dunwich, Framlingham and Woodbridge. There is also the Heart of Suffolk Cycle Route that spans 80 miles. This goes through the countryside and is signed in both directions.

Cycling Safety Considerations

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RSPOA), there were almost 18,500 reported injuries to cyclists in the year 2016. These figures include 3,499 that were either seriously injured or killed. There were 8 child deaths and 94 adult deaths.

Looking after your bike

Firstly, if you’re buying a new bike, make sure you get it from a reputable company. It is important to get the right size bike and the best type for you.

If you already own a bike, make sure to have it checked or serviced before you take up cycling so that you make sure it’s in a safe condition. Servicing is something that you should do regularly. Most people service their cars regularly but servicing your bike is just as important.

The following are things that you should be doing on a regular basis:

  1. Check your brakes, brake blocks/discs to ensure that they stop safely in both dry and wet conditions.
  2. Clean all moving parts and oil them so that they continue to work smoothly.
  3. Make sure to check and tighten nuts and bolts. This will prevent any parts from working themselves loose.
  4. Check your reflectors and lights are clean and that your lights work. As soon as your light beam intensity drops, replace or charge the batteries.

Safety When Cycling

According to the National Cycling Strategy website you should always wear a helmet and make sure it is one that meets the recognised safety standards. Wearing a helmet reduces your risk of having major head and brain injuries if you end up in an accident.

Also, make sure you are visible. Wear fluorescent and reflective clothing. This will make you much more visible to other road users. Make sure you turn your lights on in the dark or when visibility is poor too.