Health benefits of cycling
01 October 2021
Healthy Pilipinas

Cycling is becoming an increasingly popular activity among Filipinos especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. For some, it is a form of transport; for others, a form of recreation; many would say it is both. The DOH has endorsed cycling as a welcome pursuit that allows people to be physically active, and in doing so, maintain a healthy lifestyle. To further encourage people to take up cycling, here are some of its proven health benefits:

1. Improved cardiovascular fitness - Cycling is a form of exercise; regardless of the level of intensity, it is good for your heart health.

2. Increased muscle strength and flexibility - Cycling uses various muscles including your quadriceps, gluteals, hamstrings, and calves--but without over-exerting them. It can be part of cross-training programs for people who do other activities like running or hiking. Moreover, it is considered a low-impact activity and does not stress the joints as much as running.

3. Enhanced immune system - People who bike regularly have a greater chance of avoiding infections and becoming more resilient against various diseases.

4. Decreased stress - Cycling, whether alone or with companions, is good for one’s mental health. Just like other forms of physical activity, it can help reduce stress and anxiety.

5. Decreased fat levels - Regular cycling can help people achieve their weight goals and lead to better overall physical fitness.

6. Improved posture and balance - Because of the movement required for cycling, it contributes to better body form and proprioception.

7. Better sleep - Studies routinely find that cyclists sleep better than non-cyclists.

8. Healthier environment - Beyond the individual level, cycling also discourages the use of cars and motor vehicles--and therefore leads to decreased pollution levels and a better environment.

Of course, there are also safety and health considerations when cycling. Improper bike fit can lead to back and neck pain, while sun exposure without protection (e.g. sunscreen) can lead to skin problems. Road safety, while primarily a government responsibility, also necessitates personal responses like wearing highly visible clothes and having a highly visible bike (e.g. one with reflectors and lights at night), and avoiding road hazards. The benefits of cycling however far outweigh the risks, and everyone is encouraged to pursue it as part of a healthy lifestyle. Ride safe!