November 11, 2012

Exercising Options (Part 2)

Beyond running, jogging, and walking, we have several other exercise options. In this post, I would like to focus on bicycling. This option is often forgotten in the light of running, jogging, or walking when we consider exercising, but I think it is worth looking into just a bit deeper.

The Discovery website provides seven benefits to cycling: heart health, immune system, muscle health, weight, lifespan, coordination, and mental health. Biking is particularly good for toning our leg, hip, and butt muscles, but also provides us with the heart-health and immune system benefits that running, jogging, or exercising do. Cycling supports cardiovascular health to help us lower cholesterol and blood pressure in order to support our heart, which is definitely one of the most, if not the single most, important organs we have.

Bicycling also improves our immune system so that we are less likely to catch a cold or the flu or other viruses and diseases. If our heart is healthy, it can support our immune system better thus protecting us from contagious ailments. Plus, if we have a better immune system, we can better fight viruses and diseases when they do attack us. Obviously, this is a win-win situation.

Of course, running and jogging also help our upper bodies while biking focuses primarily on just lower body. But have no fear because one can add in just a little weight training to find the upper body health needed.

Beyond the muscle tone, cycling is a low-impact exercise, so much like walking, we do not suffer the same joint pains as in running. This also means less joint injury. If we have fewer injuries and less pain, obviously we can exercise more regularly to reap all the health benefits of our chosen method of exercise. Bicycling helps with that low-impact benefit.

If toning and building muscles in a way that is most beneficial to our joints is not enough, then remember that cycling is good for our waistlines. Yep. If we exercise specifically to lose weight or maintain our weight, then cycling is the right choice because cyclists burn a ton of calories. And if we’re toning and building muscles, we are metabolizing and tapping into the activities that further help our weight.

Like all exercise, cycling also contributes to a longer and better lifespan, and who doesn’t want that?

The penultimate benefit of cycling I want to discuss is improved coordination. If you’re anything like me (and I hope you’re not), then coordination is something you have to work on. Bicycling is a great way to do that because you have work your legs to move the pedals, steer with your arms, and balance your body’s weight on the seat. All of these require a strong level of coordination thus the more you cycle, the better your coordination will become.

Finally, cycling makes us feel better about ourselves, which means it improves our mental health. Most exercise helps us to cope with stress, and bicycling is no different. Not to mention the fact that if we feel better about ourselves, we project a more positive attitude.

Though cycling provides many of the same benefits of running, jogging, or walking, it is a new and different activity and provides some of its own benefits. It does require some money to purchase the right equipment, but if running is not your thing, then consider cycling.

So, if all else fails, take out that old 10-speed and hop on.

Image Credit: Stefan Schurr / Shutterstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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