There is no doubt that long-distance cyclists lead an extreme lifestyle. Even so, traveling miles and miles on two wheels also leads to healthy living.
All of us, whether we pedal regularly or not since we learned with the wheels, can copy a couple of things from them. This is what cyclists can teach us to live a healthier and happier life.
The cyclists are in very good shape
A dedicated cyclist is probably one of the fittest people we know. Just one hour of cycling burns more than 500 calories, depending on incline and speed. It’s a great way to get your heart rate up, which lowers the risk of getting cardiovascular disease in older people, according to a 2013 study.
In addition, when riding a bicycle we use a wide variety of muscles, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings and even the heart. On the other hand, when we ride our bikes we don’t put pressure on our joints, as we do with running or other forms of cardio. Cycling is therefore a low-impact sport.
They possess a great deal of energy
You may think that climbing all those hills must be exhausting, but cyclists tend to have more energy than people who are not. In a 2008 study, researchers found that after six weeks of cycling at low and moderate intensity, the feeling of fatigue decreased and energy levels increased.
They are attractive
Almost a quarter of the population admitted they’d rather meet a cyclist than any other type of athlete, according to the British Heart Foundation. What if he’s also a cyclist for a good cause? Well, even better. 80% of the participants admitted that they would be impressed by such a feat.
They take security very seriously.
Long-distance cyclists expand their physical and mental limits. They remain at the foot of the canyon even though the sun strikes, the wind is hurricane and chuzos fall tiptoe. But they like to be safe.
Although they have a higher accident rate than drivers, research also shows that the overall health benefits and added physical activity outweigh the risks of accidents and inhalation of polluted air.
This is why safety on wheels is so important. Above all, there is the helmet,” says Levi Leipheimer, a three-time winner of the Tour de California and a podium in the Tour de France.
“The helmet is undoubtedly the most fundamental [part of the equipment], and all the bicycle helmets on the market have passed the same safety checks, so, at least in theory, they are very safe regardless of the price,” he says.
Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends helmet wear, 58% of Americans never wear a helmet, according to a 2009 Consumer Reports survey. It’s quite worrying considering that 97% of cyclists killed in traffic accidents didn’t wear helmets. Safety comes first!
Cyclists know that self-sufficiency counts
Don’t depend on others: if you’re going to pedal a few kilometers, don’t forget your backpack on your back. “The more kilometers they travel, the more self-sufficient they have to be,” explains Daniel Jessee, marketing director for REI, to the HuffPost, who says he always carries a $20 bill in his backpack.
This philosophy is what many people fight for on a day-to-day basis. “The biggest benefit [of being a self-sufficient person] is that you don’t depend so much on outside factors to be happy,” says Steve Taylor, author of the psychology book Back to Sanity.
He says that self-sufficient people have a stable base of well-being, which means they can recover more quickly from the negative events in their lives and aren’t so carried away by the positive ones.
Perhaps it is because of exercise or because of the philosophy of life, but despite its different variables, research suggests that cycling is associated with having a longer life. The cyclists of the Tour de France live, on average, about eight years longer, according to the study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine.
However, other research shows that it is not the fact of riding a bike that allows you to live longer, but the intensity of the exercise. Pedaling at an intensity that takes your breath away, not at a pace that allows you to chat with the person next to you, contributes to lengthening the lives of women and men by four and five years, respectively.