bikePeople who cycle are well acquainted with the health benefits that accompany that lifestyle. Cycling is widely recognized as one of the healthiest hobbies people can take up and can add years to your life. Still though, some people are hesitant to become hard core cyclists because misconceptions about the safety of cycling still exist. The culprits that are most often accused include safety, pollution, and cycling injuries. While these things exist, they are usually small components in an equation of healthy living. Let’s take a look at exactly how healthy and safe cycling is, along with the most important benefits.

Hearty exercise

The leading cause of death in the United States, at a whopping 600,000 per year, is heart disease. Cycling is recognized as one of the healthiest exercises that exist for your heart. Cycling keeps your heart pumping at a healthy cardio level, spaced between difficult stretches and even parts where your heart can get some rest on the down slopes. This is the perfect recipe for a heart workout.

Live Long and Cycle

The evidence for the longevity effects of cycling is always mounting, and already it is incredibly one sided. Recent studies have shown the ratio of life years gained through cycling vs life years lost because of cycling injuries/effects as high as 35:1. Even conservative estimates place it at 20:1. Meaning for every three months of life years lost because of cycling crashes, pollution, or injuries, cycling would give you back about five years. That is incredible. With all the health fads and diet trends, maybe the easiest way would just be pedaling around your neighborhood for awhile every day. As always, though, these studies assume that people are using common sense by wearing a helmet and following all applicable laws. Anything can be very dangerous if you take unnecessary risks.

Cycling Adapts

One of the greatest things about cycling is its universality. People old and young can hop on a bike and explore the world around them. Anyone from Tour de France winners to first time riders can enjoy cycling and reap the benefits. Even people with injuries or other problems can usually ride with some modifications, such as recumbent bikes. Another benefit is that bikes can go just about anywhere. Save for freeways, all roads are open to bike and bikes are treated as vehicles. More and more bike specific paths are being created, and these are often great scenic places to ride. Don’t be afraid of going out there and trying new things on your bike. Ride it to work a couple days a month, enter a triathlon, or just ride around the block with your kids a little more often. Any way you do it, cycling is sure to bring health and fun into your life, and you’ll never regret time spent on the back of two wheels.

Photo courtesy of Marco Gomes.