Bicycling has some drawbacks but a lot of advantages.
There are great benefits to it just like there are to all exercises.
If you are serious about cycling, you can get some health benefits and have a good time. It’s a great way to get outdoors and enjoy a low-impact exercise in the fresh air.
What are the disadvantages of cycling – are there really any? Research indicates that cycling for prolonged periods for many years can put pressure on arteries and nerves that serve reproductive systems in both men and women. It may also contribute to back pain and bone loss in some cyclists. However, these disadvantages are outweighed by numerous health benefits of cycling.
While there is truth to these disadvantages, most are uncommon for most recreational riders.
The advantages of cycling far outweigh any potential risk.
We’ll talk about the very few downsides to cycling – and then we’ll get into how great it is for you. Come along for the ride!
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The Very Few Disadvantages of Cycling
While it’s true that the number of benefits is going to crush any cons of cycling, it’s important to take a balanced approach to this.
Let’s take an honest look at what disadvantages come with time spent on your bicycle.
- Nerve and artery compression
- Upper back pain/lower back pain
- Bone loss
Nerve and Artery Compression
Again, this is mainly a caveat for the hardcore riders who are doing tours and spend lots of time cycling over the span of many years.
This Harvard study explains it best, but in layman’s terms: sitting so long on a hard bicycle seat can compress the nerve and arteries that feed or serve reproductive organs.
After a long period of time, some riders experience numbness and other negative effects from this. However, it is both reversible and avoidable.
It takes time. Just getting ready can take time. By the time you’ve put your cycling clothes on and prepared your bottled drink, you’ve probably killed half an hour. And that’s not counting making sure your bike is ok.
You have to check the tires, chain, etc. and make sure it’s in good operational condition.
Then you take off. You can do a 20 minute or a two-hour ride. It all depends on how fit you are. Regardless, this takes time.
Upper Back and Lower Back Pain
With most bikes you must hunch over to ride. There is a constant motion to stay in that position. This can cause stress on the upper and lower back. As a result, there may be a tightness or pain.
As mentioned previously, cycling is a low impact exercise, this can be a double edge sword. Cycling is bad for the bones. According to the New York Times, thirty-two male competitive bike riders were compared with the same age group who didn’t ride bikes.
The cyclists and non-cyclists were given bone scans. The cyclists had much more bone loss than their counterparts. In fact, some of the cyclists, who were in their twenties, had osteopenia in their spines. This is a prerequisite to osteoporosis.
This bone loss seems to be unique to cycling. Since other sports that entail endurance don’t have the same results.
Read Also: Is Mountain Biking A Good Hobby?
The Advantages of Cycling Far Exceed Any Potential Disadvantage
There is so much to gain from cycling, that any potential drawbacks are overshadowed. Sure, riders should watch their posture and not hunch over while cycling.
And, yes, you do need to wear a helmet in case of an accident. But other than that, the list is full of positives:
- Reduced cardiovascular disease
- Weight control
- Reduced stress
- Improved strength
- Improved lung function
- Low impact
- It’s cheap
- It’s sociable
- Good for the environment
Cycling is just good for you, no matter how you look at it. Most of the results of are great and can help improve your life. Cycling is a fun way to be physically active and be outdoors. And it’s enjoyable whether you are cycling by yourself or with a friend or group. Take a closer look at these.
Reduced Cardiovascular Disease
Cycling is the ultimate in cardio exercise. It is a low impact way to improve your heart rate.
With running, you’re pounding your feet and legs on the ground. Cycling doesn’t do that. You’re suspended.
So, whether you ride on the road or in the gym, you’re stimulating your heart without pounding your bones.
Cycling is a great way to lose weight. It burns calories without building a great deal of muscle. You’ll probably lose inches off your glutes, thighs, and waist.
You’ll likely burn anywhere from 80 to 680 calories in a 30-minute session.
It does, however, depend on what your starting weight is and how much exertion you put into it as to exactly how many calories you’ll burn.
Riding down the road is enjoyable. You’re not only exercising, but you’re breathing fresh air and seeing the sights. You can’t get this in a gym. Some mental problems cycling diminishes are:
These issues can be reduced by regular riding. Not only are you enjoying the activity, but you’re also getting exercise, which releases healthy endorphins.
When it comes to increasing strength and stamina, cycling delivers an intense workout. Start with a twenty-minute ride. You’ll find you’ll continuously build up strength and power to double that in no time.
The beauty of biking is, that if you get weary, you just slow down. There’s no fixed or determined speed. Over time, you’ll find your strength increasing.
Improved Lung Function
Your heart and lungs will get stronger. You’ll be able to move air through your lungs easier. This increases your lung capacity. Lung volume will increase over 10% or more while cycling.
Here is a great article about how your lungs work when you cycle. The increased lung function that comes with cycling forces your abs to get involved.
You’re taking in more air, so something has to blow it out. It actually helps your diaphragm push air through your lungs. In other words, cycling makes your breathing muscles work extra hard. This ultimately makes your respiratory muscles stronger.
Bicycling is a low impact. It takes all the weight off the body. Unlike running, with cycling, no pressure is put on joints. This is true for on-road biking or in gym biking.
There’s no gym membership to riding around the neighborhood. Once you have a bike and helmet, it doesn’t cost you anything to ride. If you just want to ride around town, you don’t need an expensive bike. You could actually buy one at a garage sale. If you want to go mountain biking, you might want to invest in a better, sturdier bike. It all depends on your needs.
You can bike with people. Meet up and bike to a coffee shop. Get your neighbors involved. It’s fun to bike with one person or a group. If you have kids, have them go with you. It can be a family outing. Because anyone can bike, everyone can enjoy it. Remember, once you’ve learned, you don’t forget.
Good for the Environment
You can exercise and do a good thing for the environment; that’s a killer combination.
Cycling is pollution-free. It doesn’t use carbon fuels or even electricity. It’s powered by you.
So, you’re not contributing to any problems with the environment. You could even put a basket on your bike and go to the store for small things. Exercise and errands at once – it’s done all the time.
What is Spinning?
Madd Dogg Athletics created a program called spinning, and the fitness world changed. Spinning is when people in a group workout on stationary bikes in a gym setting. It usually has an instructor and often time is in the dark with loud music.
The reasoning behind the spinning class versus riding alone is motivation. The theory is you’ll push yourself more if you have associates and an instructor urging you on.
Classes usually last around forty minutes. The average class will help you burn off between 400 and 1,000 calories. Of course, this depends on what you put into it.
Although each class has standard bikes, you’ll be able to customize the one you’ll use. Some things you can customize include:
- Seat height
Be sure to check these three items so that your work out is comfortable and safe.
If you are having a problem adjusting the equipment, then ask the instructor for help. Some bikes have gel saddles for comfort. If you wish, you can bring one for yourself from home.
Spin class will give you an intense workout. Although it starts slow, it quickly accelerates and gives you a fast-paced experience. You’ll probably be sore the day or days after your first class. But you’ll adapt to the aches and end up healthier in the long run.
Whether you are out in the fresh air on a bike bath or cycling your way to work in the city, you’re going to reap benefits from spending time on your bicycle.
If you can’t take bike to work and don’t have time for a leisurely ride on weekends, you can find those same health boosts by joining a spinning class.
In the end, while no activity is absolutely perfect and without risks, bicycling comes pretty close.