With summer on the horizon and longer days already here, outdoor activities become more accessible and cycling is a wonderful way to spend time outside, boosting your fitness, health and overall wellbeing.
Anyone at any age can enjoy the benefits of cycling which is probably why it is one of the most popular recreational activities in the UK, with an estimated 3.1 million people riding bikes every month.
Cycling is a ‘low impact’ activity, so it’s easy on your joints, whilst also helping you to get in shape and stay fit, strengthen your heart and tone leg muscles. As well as this, cycling may also reduce the risk of cancer, strokes and Type 2 Diabetes.
In addition to it’s physical and mental benefits, cycling is extremely environmentally friendly, offers a speedy way to move around a city, and is a brilliant way to commute to work.
Recent research published on Science Direct claims that people who swapped driving to work for cycling, benefited from significantly improved mental wellbeing. The study demonstrated that having an active commute improved levels of concentration and enjoyment of daily activities, and it was also shown to reduce anxiety and stress.
To really build cardiovascular fitness and reap the benefits of cycling, it is recommended that you ride a bike for at least 150 minutes each week. This could mean cycling to work a few days a week, or doing a few short rides during the week and a longer one at the weekend. There are lots of options to choose from and the British Cycling Federation website offers advice on everything you need to know about cycling, whether you’re a novice, an experienced mountain biker, or you use cycling to commute to work. It also has information on joining a cycling club in your area and how you can participate in national cycling events.
If you don’t have much experience of cycling or it’s been a while since you got on a bike, we recommend starting off in a traffic-free area such as your local park, to help build your confidence before heading out onto the road. Practice looking over both left and right shoulders, and riding single-handed so you are able to make left and right hand signals. Start slowly and increase your cycle rides gradually, any improvement on what you currently do is beneficial.
See these cycling safety tips to help you feel even more comfortable when you’re out on the road.
If you feel you would benefit from some training from a qualified instructor, then please visit the following links;
CTC website for cycle courses and training.
TfL website for a list of companies, and borough councils that offer training and support.
Interested in taking up this fantastic form of exercise and purchasing a bike? Imperial College NHS Trust is part of the cycle to work scheme, which offers tax savings on the cost of a bike, whilst allowing you to pay for your bike through monthly installments.
On this website are links to stores which accept cycle scheme certificates, and can advise you on the most appropriate bike, as well as what additional equipment you will need to get started.
If you have any ideas for us about cycling we’d love to hear from you, or perhaps you would like to be part of our Bicycle User Group (BUG) and receive regular news/updates on all cycle-related issues events, just send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, (titled ‘Cycling’ or ‘BUG’) and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and ‘like’ us on Facebook for more wellbeing tips and advice.